An acquaintance made a comment once that deeply wounded me. We were discussing depression, its causes, and how to reverse it. She said, “It’s just self-pity.” She didn’t realize how deep a pit of depression I was in at the time and how shamed I felt at the thought that I’d fallen prey to self-pity.
In fairness to her, she had a point. If she’d presented the issue in a more constructive way, it would have turned my life around. Rather than, “Depressed people feel sorry for themselves,” she may have said, “Gratitude can make us healthier.”
Many studies have shown gratitude to be effective in combatting depression and other psychological disorders. But one particular study shows that it can make us physically healthier and more motivated to take care of our health. The experimenters studied ungrad students in three groups. Once a week, one group listed five impacting events, one listed five complaints, and one listed five gratitudes. After 10 weeks, the gratitude group not only felt better, but exercised more. The amount of research on the effects of gratitude to our physical, mental, and spiritual health is incalculable.
Sometimes life becomes overwhelming. The problems loom large. It is then that the positives get pushed out of our awareness. But giving thanks for what is good can lift us up to a better place. So think of three good things in your life right now and speak them out loud.
And let us pray. Dear God, in Christ Jesus you have saved us from death. If that is the only thing for which we can praise you for eternity, it is enough. But there is so much more. You send so many tokens of your love to us each day, and we miss them. Help us become more mindful of the good is our prayer in Jesus’ name, Amen.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18