Although Thanksgiving Day dates back to the Pilgrims, it didn’t become a national holiday until 1863 when America was in the midst of a bloody Civil War. Abraham Lincoln thought it might help to unify the country and it has been celebrated annually ever since.
An attitude of gratitude can do much to heal the country, but it also can heal the hurts that one inevitably suffers in this life and can make us healthier, happier and more successful. These are scientifically proven facts.
Most of you are familiar with the song “Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)” from the 1954 movie classic “White Christmas.” It begins,
“When, I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep and I fall asleep counting my blessings.”
These are not simply pretty lyrics. A 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being found that spending just 15 minutes jotting down grateful sentiments before bed, helps one sleep better and longer. Better sleeps leads to better overall health and well being and more productivity.
In 2015, research on patients suffering from heart failure found that those who completed gratitude journals showed reduced inflammation, improved sleep, and better moods which dramatically reduced the symptoms of this disease after only 8 weeks.
But you don’t need to keep a journal. Research done at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 discovered that persons who wrote and delivered a heartfelt letter to someone who had been especially kind to them but had never been properly thanked, were happier for a full month afterward.
Gratitude is a natural characteristic for some individuals. However, if it isn’t one of your strengths, fear not. It can be developed. What better time to begin working on it than on this national holiday.
Instead of rushing off from the traditional feast to watch football games or pursue other interests take a few moments to allow each person to tell those around the table why he or she is grateful for them. Better still, give everyone a stack of cards. Have those assembled write a note of appreciation to each table guest (even that grumpy uncle has some characteristic that is praiseworthy). When everyone is finished, deliver the notes to the proper recipients and have each read those notes aloud.
If you are alone this Thanksgiving, text, email or write a message of gratitude to five people who have touched your life.
Remember that an attitude of gratitude is not an option for Christians. If your prayer life is not what it should be, this may be an issue. All of us have problems. Some may seem insurmountable at times. When you find yourself between the proverbial rock and a hard place, the solution can be found in Philippians 4:4-8:
- “Rejoice in the Lord aways. I will say it again: Rejoice.” God is good so take some time to praise him.
- “Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand.” In other words, keep your head.
- “Do not be anxious about anything.” Don’t worry. Remember, God is with you. He may not take the problem away but he will help you through it. Also, keep in mind that he can use this problem to strengthen and refine you.
- “But in everything, with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God.” Ah, there is the key. We are to give thanks for everything, even though we may not feel like it at the time. Then, and only then, we should tell God specifically what we need and let him take it from there. Then listen. Prayer is a two-way street. He may give you immediate steps to take to begin solving your problem. They may be things you couldn’t begin to imagine on your own. However, if you hang up the phone too soon, you will miss this blessed assurance.
- “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” What more could you possibly ask?
While you are practicing gratitude, why not write a note of encouragement to our president. If you have ever been in a position of authority, you know what a thankless job it is. It is impossible to please everyone and this president has more than his share of detractors. You may be one of them. All the more reason to write a heartfelt note in Christian love. Even if you disagree with him politically, find at least one thing he has done that you can commend. https://www.whitehouse.gov/trump-administration-accomplishments/
God will bless you for it.