Depression is an escalating issue in our society, According to Gallup, The percentage of U.S.…
I am grateful! I had another birthday this month. I am very glad to have the opportunity to celebrate. Last fall, I had an episode in the ICU that included a near death experience, I was placed in a medically induced coma and intubated to receive treatment to save my life. God’s power, peace, protection and provision was wrapped around me. Our Immanuel, Christ, was “with me” as the word promises (Matthew 1:23) When I awoke from the coma, I was very grateful! One of my first goals was to bring my favorite Christian music into my room and “worship my way to wellness”, then God gave me a series of verses to show me, He had much more for me to do. It began with this one:
For You delivered me from death, even my feet from stumbling, to walk before God in the light of life. (Psalm 56:13 HCSB)
Then followed up with this familiar prayer of David from the Psalms:
“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:18 NIV)
The doctors did share with me that my hard work of eating healthy, exercise, and keeping active was like a shock absorber that God used to help save my life. My goal since that time in ICU is to “build back better” so I can live longer and stronger for Christ. Each day, each hour, each moment is a GIFT! I have been reminded of the power of “aging GRATEFULLY”
“The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
I am currently reading and enjoying Alice Fryling’s Aging Faithfully. (NavPress) I like to say my goal is to not just “age gracefully” but rather, to “age gratefully”.
Gratitude is a GIFT that keeps giving to us as we grow older.
Let’s look at this GIFT of gratitude. What are four key benefits of gratitude? It is a GIFT:
Generates a positive mindset for well-being.
Scientific studies have shown that practicing gratitude can have a significant impact on our mindset and overall well-being. Grateful individuals tend to have a more positive outlook on life, focusing on the good rather than the negative. Research has demonstrated that regularly expressing gratitude rewires the brain, leading to increased optimism, resilience, and overall life satisfaction. By cultivating a positive mindset through gratitude, individuals can experience greater emotional well-being and a more optimistic approach to life’s challenges.
Each day, soon as my eyes open, I repeat this verse, often aloud:
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24 NIV)
(To learn many ways to do this, download Infectious Joy ebook)
Improves mental and physical health.
Numerous scientific studies have revealed the profound effects of gratitude on mental and physical health. Gratitude practices have been linked to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Grateful individuals often exhibit higher self-esteem and a greater sense of purpose in life. Furthermore, gratitude has been associated with improved sleep quality and reduced symptoms of physical ailments. The act of expressing gratitude triggers the release of neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which promote feelings of happiness, relaxation, and overall well-being. In addition, in a study I cite in 10 Secrets of Living Smart, Savvy and Strong, in a survey of those living to 100, one of the key common traits is and “attitude of gratitude”
In addition, in our soon to release book: Discovering Wisdom in Proverbs: A Creative Bible Study Experience, we cite:
Proverbs 17:22 (NIV): “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”
This verse is strong proof that God wired us to gain strong health through a mindset of joy, cheerfulness, and worship of Him, the Creator.
Fosters stronger relationships and deeper connections.
Gratitude plays a crucial role in cultivating and nurturing relationships. Scientific research has shown that expressing gratitude towards others strengthens social bonds and fosters deeper connections. Grateful individuals tend to be more empathetic, compassionate, and prosocial, which leads to enhanced relationship satisfaction. Moreover, expressing gratitude can increase relationship longevity, as it promotes mutual appreciation, understanding, and a sense of reciprocity. Through acts of gratitude, individuals can create a positive and supportive social environment that enriches their relationships.
Colossians 3:15 (NIV) lists out steps to strengthen relationships: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Giving your heart over to the peace Jesus brings, and being thankful to God and others knits hearts. To put it plainly, who would you rather spend time with: the grumpy or the grateful? Obviously, the GRATEFUL people draw hearts near.
Transforms perspectives and enhances personal growth:
Gratitude has the power to transform perspectives and enhance personal growth. By adopting a grateful mindset, individuals can reframe their experiences and focus on the positive aspects of their lives. Scientific studies suggest that gratitude can lead to a greater sense of meaning and purpose, as well as increased self-awareness. It helps individuals develop resilience and adaptability in the face of challenges, fostering personal growth and self-improvement. Gratitude encourages individuals to appreciate their own strengths and capabilities, leading to increased motivation and the pursuit of personal goals, all traits and best practices that promote the potential for greater success.
Years ago, Bill and I selected Psalm 103 as our life verse, in part because it shows the blessings and benefits of a thankful heart:
“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:2-5 (NIV)
Remembering the Lord’s goodness to us, like his forgiveness, redemption, a crown of love and compassion and satisfying us with good things results in a life of renewed youth!
All in all, the bible complimented by scientific evidence supports the idea that gratitude is indeed a powerful GIFT. Incorporating gratitude practices into our lives can have profound effects on our happiness, our health, our relationships, and personal perspectives which all enhance personal wellness and growth. (Here is a link to Top 12 ideas for cultivation gratitude)
Which of the four traits of the GIFT of gratefulness can you weave into your life today?
PS If you would like to join Pam for her Zoom birthday party: Aging Gratefully on May 31 at 6 pm PT, email info@Love-Wise.com to get the link to join.
Pam Farrel is the author of her soon to release 60th book Growing a Joyful Heart (A devotional Co-authored with Karen Whiting) from AMG. To join the launch team, email info@love-Wise.com Also soon to release in Joy is Pam’s 5th in the series: Discovering Wisdom in Proverbs: A Creative Bible Study Experience.
Pam has many more books on her heart, and to keep fit to have the energy to write them, she enjoys kayaking, paddle boarding, biking, and her daily sunset prayer walk with her beloved husband, Bill, who she has been happily married to for nearly 44 years. The Farrels Co-Direct the Living Love-Wise Community and enjoy time with their three grown sons, Daughter-in-Laws and 7 grandchildren. They make their home on a live aboard boat docked in So CA.