I think modern science has it backward. Many researchers today espouse the positive benefits of gratitude and tell us we should practice gratitude so that we can reduce stress, lengthen our lives, change our thinking patterns, and eliminate toxicity from our lives.
I’m not against any of these things. In fact, I hope we all receive these benefits and many more from living grateful lives.
But I think the researchers have subtly shifted the focus onto ourselves. If you read the research, it seems to be another form of self-help. Do you want to be happy? Be grateful. Do you want to live longer? Just practice gratitude.
How the Bible talks about gratitude
I know this may oversimplify their research, but it does stand in stark contrast to the Bible. A quick perusal found 73 occurrences of the phrase “give thanks.” Guess how many describe the benefits to the thanksgiver?
Zero. Nada. None.
That’s right. I expected to see the Bible telling us all the reasons why we should give thanks, but instead every occurrence tells us what to give thanks for or to whom we should give thanks. The person giving thanks has already received the benefits and now they are acknowledging those. Most often to God, but frequently to others.
The research gets it right
Here’s where I agree with the research: We all can benefit from practicing daily gratitude. It will shift our focus from griping to gratefulness. It will rewire our brains to notice thousands of things for which we can be thankful instead of taking things for granted. Gratefulness is one of the chief forms of worship.
And we can’t just practice thankfulness one day per year. Research gets this right: it takes time to learn the habit of gratitude. Some studies say it takes up to 90 days to rewire your brain to an extent where you receive life-changing benefits.
The 90-Day Gratitude Challenge
So I’m wondering who wants to join a 90-day Gratitude Challenge? It will be scripture-based and God-focused. I’ll give a short daily gratitude prompt and your part will be to express gratefulness in your own way.
Let me know if you’re interested in the comments or sign-up on the form at the top right on this page.
Photo by Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash.com