Another crazy Texas weather crisis is in the history books. It is no laughing matter. Hurricanes and tornados we can manage, but Texans in sub-zero weather are about as clueless as penguins in Palm Beach. We’re not equipped. There is only one invincible arrow in our quiver: the indomitable spirit of gratitude.
Texans are known for their gracious hospitality. It is that grace under fire that gets us through the hard (or cold) times. That grace is built on a spirit of generosity that is fueled by a heart of gratitude.
The more I reflect on my latest Snowmageddon survival experience, the more I realize the power of gratitude.
Jesus and Health researchers are way ahead of me on this topic.
Jesus on Gratitude
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body” (Mark 14:22).
The idea of being grateful is ubiquitous in Biblical teaching (some form of the word “thank” is found more than 30 times in the book of Psalms alone). I don’t have the time or space to share all the places the Bible talks about gratitude.
Suffice to say, Gratitude is the foundation for all worship. It is the bulwark against idolatry. It is the essential element for humility. It is the curtain call to every success story in the Bible.
Jesus constantly taught his disciples the attitude of gratitude.
One day, standing at the grave of his friend, Jesus said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me” (John 11:41). And then he raised Lazarus from the dead.
Gratitude raises us from a kind of death on earth.
The Research on Gratitude
Mental health research confirms the Biblical testimony.
One recent research project studied the impact of gratitude on 300 college students who were seeking mental health counseling at a university.
The study found that those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after their writing exercise ended. The study found that “practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief.” 1
Four Conclusions About Gratitude
The research to date has yielded some tenuous, yet interesting conclusions.
1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions
Focusing on negative thoughts allows toxic emotions to stew. Gratitude mops up the toxicity.
2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it
Write the letter, even if you never mail it; even if the person is no longer alive to receive it. The process of writing has a healing effect.
3. Gratitude’s benefits take time
If you start writing letters of gratitude to the people you love, give it time.
4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain
We spend a lot of time chasing the things we don’t have. The chase has turned you into a bundle of anxiety and stress. Gratitude reverses that process and helps you to focus on the things you already have.
I challenge you to embark on your gratitude journey today.
You can start by thanking God for 70-degree weather!