Whats the best thing that happened today?
That’s the question we ask everyone around the table at our evening meal together. It’s become a bit of a family tradition, and helps us stay connected.
I’ve discovered some additional benefits to asking “what’s the best thing that happened today”? Psychological studies have proven there is great social, psychological, and physical health benefits that come from giving thanks and thinking about what we have to be grateful about in our everyday lives.
Studies have revealed a range of impressive benefits to having an “attitude of gratitude”, especially when we take recounting our gratitude a step further and start to keep a “gratitude journal”. The simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful has been shown to have even greater benefits than happier dinner time and closer relationships. (as great as they are)—benefits include better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, and more happiness among adults and kids alike.
As with anything in life our “attitude of gratitude” needs to be from the heart. We can’t just go through the motions of being grateful. Gratitude first has to be a conscious decision to be happier, to look for the blessing, and to be more grateful. As I regularly remind myself and my kids “your’s is a first world problem”, change your perspective and look for what you do have, not what you don’t. We have so much, and yet we are often not content or happy.
One effective way of stimulating gratitude is to reflect on what your life would be like without certain blessings, rather than just tallying up all those good things. Ask yourself, “what would life be like without that experience, person, ability, relationship, etc”? Savor surprises. Try to think on, talk about and record events that were unexpected or surprising, that made your day a little brighter. Just take some time to write them down occasionally (once or twice per week). The benefit of writing things down is that it helps us to organize our thoughts, and see the events which are bringing meaning in our life.
It’s really about focusing our thoughts so that we pay attention to the good things in our life; the things we see as a blessing or a “gift”; that we’d otherwise take for granted. Simply recording five things we have experienced in the past week for which we’re grateful in just a single sentence is all it takes. The result is a change of perspective. Instead of seeing a glass “half empty”, we start to see how it is “half full”.
Start paying attention to those everyday occurrences which cause you to feel grateful; to look for what you do have, and what God has done and is doing already. Then pause, make a memory, write it down; and most importantly give thanks!
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20)
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” ( Psalm 118:24)