Today I am thankful for: my garden cart, my cookie sheets that I have had my entire married life and look it, and my microwave that no longer has a handle, but works just fine. Research by Dr. Robert Emmons at UC Davis, when I regularly count my blessings, it will make me 25% happier. Twenty-five percent! Who can’t use being 25% happier?
In addition to being happier, the people in the gratitude group had fewer doctor visits, slept better, had fewer colds, and generally felt more satisfied. They also had a relative lack of stress and depression and made more progress on personal goals. All for free and with no side effects.
I have been experimenting with it myself for the past year and a half. Most days I write down three things that I am thankful for. At first it was very easy. I’m thankful for my home, my husband, my kids, etc. I quickly moved through the big, easy ones. The ones that can easily become rote. Of course we are thankful for those blessings. But I wanted to push myself into more of a mindset of gratitude. About that time, I found Ann Voskamp. She wrote a book called “1000 Gifts,” which I haven’t read yet. Out of that book and experience, she created lists for each month of the year. Sometimes they are easy: three gifts red. Sometimes they are harder and require me to really think. Today’s was “Three gifts ugly-beautiful.”
I don’t know if I’m 25% happier. I don’t have any data to compare. But this is what I do know. I am more likely to be happy than in the past. I notice things more. A bird, a smile, being warm. I am better at recognizing all the blessings that the Lord has poured into my life.
Once a month, the prompt is “Hard Eucharisteo.” (If that is a new term to you, know that it was new to me as well. Eucharisteo is Greek and means to give thanks.) Honestly, I’d really rather not give thanks for something hard. I mean, I usually try to avoid hard. But here’s the thing. When I look at the hard things in my life: the hurts, the disappointments, the times when I fall short, and make the choice to be thankful, they are turned into a blessing. I am reminded that I am not expected to do life on my own. And I recognize that these are things that The Lord uses to make me more like Jesus. THAT is something to be thankful for!
So, would you like to be happier? Healthier? More satisfied? Why don’t you join me in keeping a gratitude journal? You can come up with your own list. Or if you want some help, hop on over to http://www.aholyexperience.com/joy-dares/ and get started. She also has links to the research if you want to check it out for yourself.
And happy thanks-giving! You won’t be able to help it!