Gratitude: The Attitude Worth Having
Psychologist, Dr. C. looks at the benefits of expressing gratitude both physically and mentally.
As a Psychologist I am always fascinated with the intricacies of the brain. Its function. Its complexity. The way it’s put together. How beautifully and wonderfully we are made. And how even the brightest minds currently on the planet are still trying to figure it out.
The brain was designed brilliantly. The resilience it shows so that if one bit is damaged then other parts can step up. The billions and billions of neural connections that make us unique. It is a wonder. It is a miracle. In my professional capacity I study the mechanisms and processes of how the mind works. And even within my small research niche I think I could examine it for a hundred years and still find mysteries to investigate (and in fact, science has been doing just that for centuries).
The Place of Gratitude
Rob’s talk on anxiety and gratitude, thus piqued my interest. And I felt prompted to explore it further (both by some people in the church and by a Divine nudge that I thought maybe I should follow).
So, what is the link between anxiety and gratitude? It is clearly recognised in the Bible, where we are given a God-inspired solution: Philippians 4:6 says, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God’.
But I love that it doesn’t stop there. It is also physical. So, in my intensive and short-lived research period (i.e., while hubby played with kids in the garden). Here is what I found out:
The Benefits of Gratitude
• Gratitude has been found to lower stress hormones
• Gratitude can lower blood pressure
• Gratitude leads to better cardiovascular health
• Gratitude can reduce inflammation in patients who have experienced heart failure
• Gratitude can lessen both depression and anxiety (many, many studies have indicated this)
• Gratitude lessens feelings of daily anger
• Gratitude journals have been recommended to help people with suicidal thoughts
• Gratitude can help people tolerate pain (although the evidence is mixed as to how effective gratitude is in actually reducing pain – with some weird and wonderful experiments out there!)
• Gratitude reduces death anxiety. Let’s read that again. Recalling (even a few) events for which you are thankful makes you less fearful of death!
And this is all I could found out before there was a holler from the garden that the kids were hungry. If I were to do a proper research dive I could undoubtedly find out much, much more.
As I was thinking about this my mind went to Psalm 23. I love this Psalm for many reasons (as so many of us do!). But I began to think about two verses with somewhat contrasting themes. There is the verse where we are walking through the valley of the shadow of death – which sounds inherently anxious (although God promises to be with us). And there is the one where He prepares a table for me – which sounds actually quite nice and celebratory. In all He is with us and in the latter there is a sense of thanksgiving (and the rest of the Psalm promises much more).
I love that God has given us spiritual words and physical evidence showing that our minds, body and soul benefit from giving thanks. It has been shown in Scripture and from my brief foray into the research world it has been proven in science. I for one am thankful that God has given us both.
To listen to Rob’s talk, click on this link: Rest, Gratitude and Self-Control