Giving Thanks Gives Back
[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]W[/mk_dropcaps]hile listening to a podcast today it mentioned a research study by UC Davis. The study showed how the physical symptoms of stress were reduced by 23% due to cultivating an attitude of gratitude. What did they have the subjects do for this result to occur? At regulated intervals throughout the day, the subjects had to stop to think about something they were grateful for. I don't know about you but I will take 23% less stress just from thinking about what I'm grateful for. But this study got me thinking. Since we talked about the pillars of health last week, which includes stress management, lets unpack the thought that an attitude of gratitude helps combat stress.
Afterall, as we have Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years right around the corner stress comes with this season (even if most of it is all good stress). In the next few weeks as we celebrate thanksgiving the theme of "Giving Thanks" will surround us. I love thanksgiving for the simple focus of pausing to reflect on what we are thankful for. But how sad would it be if we only did this once a year. After hearing the results of this study how detrimental to our bodies if we went that long in our thoughts without pausing to be grateful.
I know there are other remedies to help us relieve stress. Supplements that help. Massage (oh how I love this one!). Journaling (which is a personal favorite). Hot Tubs. The list could go on and on. But something about cultivating an attitude of gratitude struck me as the cornerstone of stress management. If you look to scripture God requires we pause and shift our thoughts to thanksgiving and praise to enter into His presence:
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise. Be thankful to Him and bless His name."-Psalms 100:4[/mk_blockquote]
I don't think it is by accident that our creator required us to develop an attitude of gratitude to be in His presence. Not just because that is His preference, but because it is for our benefit. How much would we miss out on in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords if our minds were consumed with thoughts of negativity, of the responsibilities we have, of the circumstances we are facing if we didn't reign in our thinking and direct it into one of gratitude. When you think about it like that, giving thanks gives back far beyond what is sown to enter into it.
In a posture of gratitude not only does stress lesson but you get the presence of God when you direct it toward Him. He is the Prince of Peace. The great counselor. Teacher. Comforter. Healer. Provider. Deliverer. Unconditional Love. The great I am. Yet, he can't be measured by all these titles and the countless more you could describe Him as.
If you like me often need a good dose of stress relief I'd say developing an attitude of gratitude is worth all the discipline and intention is worth the investment of effort far beyond what you need. Personally, it is so easy for me to be swept away by the emotions that sweep in to try and dominate when the responsibilities of life slam into you. Recognizing the ease of slipping into what I am grateful for even in those moments can be like a dunk in cold water to revive your joy and mental clarity.
When we do so stress is no match. You do not have to bend to it's will, and I dare you to try it and see if this thanksgiving season gives back far more than what you expected.
With much gratitude for you,