Tag Archives: gratitude

Gratitude – Has Its Benefits

It’s Thanksgiving Week! Gobble Gobble. But we use the concept of gobble more about food than the sound of the fowl. However we use it – we should take this week and every week to tell God how thankful we are. Even when life isn’t so … wonderful. We can always find things for which to be thankful. And if you needed a reason to be thankful, then Courtney Ackerman wrote an article that expressed 28 benefits to gratitude.

It’s almost as if being thankful is a bit selfish. No, maybe not. But it is good for you. SO read the whole article here, are just enjoy the summery below …

Benefits of Gratitude: 28+ Surprising Research Findings

Practicing gratitude is known to impact our emotions and emotional health. Evidence has shown that a regular “attitude of gratitude” can…

1. Make us happier

those who pay attention to what is good in their life instead of what is bad are more likely to feel positively about their life.

2. Increase psychological wellbeing

Researcher Chih-Che Lin (2017) found that even when controlling for personality, a high level of gratitude has a strong positive impact on psychological wellbeing, self-esteem, and depression. – Makes you a better feeling you!

3. Enhance our positive emotions

Research has shown that gratitude reduces envy, facilitates positive emotions, and makes us more resilient. After all, if we are grateful for what we have, what room is there for envy to sneak in?

4. Increase our self-esteem

Gratitude can help you feel better about your circumstances, which can lead to feeling better about yourself.

5. Keep suicidal thoughts and attempts at bay

A study on the effects of gratitude on depression, coping, and suicide showed that gratitude is a protective factor when it comes to suicidal ideation in stressed and depressed individuals (Krysinska, Lester, Lyke, & Corveleyn, 2015). Enhancing our own practice of gratitude can help protect us when we are weakest.

Gratitude and Social Benefits

So we know that gratitude makes us more emotionally balanced, happier, and more positive. It makes sense, then, that all of these positive effects result in social benefits as well. After all, happy and healthy people are fun to be around!

6. Make people like us

Those who are more grateful have access to a wider social network, more friends, and better relationships on average (Amin, 2014). People like happier more positive peeps!

7. Improve our romantic relationships

Showing our gratitude to loved ones is a great way to make them feel good, make us feel good, and make the relationship better in general! Yowza!!!

8. Improve our friendships

Those who communicate their gratitude to their friends are more likely to work through problems and concerns with their friends.

9. Increases social support

Those who are more grateful have access to more social support … and it lessens the need for social support in the first place by making you feel better about yourself!

10. Strengthen family relationships in times of stress

Gratitude has been found to protect children of ill parents from anxiety and depression, acting as a buffer against the internalization of symptoms (Stoeckel, Weissbrod, & Ahrens, 2015). Teenage and young adult children who are able to find the positives in their lives can more easily deal with difficult situations like serious illness in the family.

11. Make us more optimistic

Showing our gratitude not only helps others feel more positively, it also makes us think more positively … the more we think about what we are grateful for, the more we find to be grateful for!

12. Increase our spiritualism

If you are feeling a little too “worldly” or feeling lost spiritually, practicing gratitude can help you get out of your spiritual funk.

13. Make us more giving

Another benefit to both ourselves and others, gratitude can decrease our self-centeredness … gratitude makes us more likely to share with others, even at the expense of ourselves.

14. Indicate reduced materialism

Unsurprisingly, those who are the most grateful also tend to be less materialistic … appreciating what we already have.

15. Enhance optimism

Gratitude can impact our Career …

16. Make us more effective managers

Gratitude research has shown that practicing gratitude enhances your managerial skills, enhancing your praise-giving and motivating abilities as a mentor and guide to the employees you manage (Stone & Stone, 1983).

17. Reduce impatience and improve decision-making

Those that are more grateful than others are also less likely to be impatient during economic decision-making, leading to better decisions and less pressure from the desire for short-term gratification (DeSteno, Li, Dickens, & Lerner, 2014). As anyone who has ever worked a stressful job already knows, decisions made to satisfy short-term urges rarely provide positive work results or a boost to your career!

18. Help us find meaning in our work

Those who find meaning and purpose in their work are often more effective and more fulfilled throughout their career. Gratitude is one factor that can help people find meaning in their job, along with applying their strengths, positive emotions and flow, hope, and finding a “calling” (Dik, Duffy, Allan, O’Donnell, Shim, & Steger, 2015).

19. Contribute to reduced turnover

Research has found that gratitude and respect in the workplace can help employees feel embedded in their organization, or welcomed and valued (Ng, 2016).

20. Improve work-related mental health and reduce stress

Employing gratitude at work can have a significant impact on staff mental health, stress, and turnover. In a rigorous examination of the effects of gratitude on stress and depressive symptoms in hospital staff, researchers learned that the participants randomly assigned to the gratitude group reported fewer depressive symptoms and stress (Cheng, Tsui, & Lam, 2015). Finding things to be grateful for at work, even in stressful jobs, can help protect staff from the negative side effects of their job.

Gratitude obviously impacts Physical Health …

Increase your frequency of exercise gratitude

21. Reduce depressive symptoms

A study on gratitude visits showed that participants experienced a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms for several weeks, while those practising gratitude journaling reported a similar reduction in depressive symptoms for as long as the journaling continued (Seligman et al., 2005). This is an amazing finding and suggests that gratitude journaling can be an effective supplement to treatment for depression. Get those journals out!

22. Reduce your blood pressure

Patients with hypertension who “count their blessings” at least once a week experienced a significant decrease in blood pressure, resulting in better overall health (Shipon, 1977). Want a healthy heart? Count your blessings!

((Todd – My new Apple Watch says I have a fast heart beat – not extreme but maybe I need more gratitude in my life!))

23. Improve your sleep

A two-week gratitude intervention increased sleep quality and reduced blood pressure in participants, leading to enhanced wellbeing.

24. Increase your frequency of exercise

It’s true: being grateful can help you get fit! It may not be a very effective “fast weight loss” plan, but it has been shown that study participants who practiced gratitude regularly for 11 weeks were more likely to exercise than those in the control group (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

25. Improve your overall physical health

Evidence shows that the more grateful a person is the more likely he or she is to enjoy better physical health, as well as psychological health (Hill, Allemand, & Roberts, 2013). Apparently, grateful people are healthy people!

Gratitude’s Role in Recovery

Beyond merely improving physical health, gratitude has also been applied to aid recovery from several conditions and diagnoses. Whether the issue is substance abuse or a physical ailment, gratitude might be able to help those who are suffering to take control of their lives and get well again.

26. Help people recover from substance misuse

Researchers and addiction programs alike have noticed that gratitude can play a key role in recovery from substance misuse or abuse. It seems to help by enabling the development of strengths and other personal resources that individuals can call on in their journey towards a healthier life (Chen, 2017).

27. Enhance recovery from coronary health events

A study out of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital found that acute coronary syndrome patients experienced greater improvements in health-related quality of life and greater reductions in depression and anxiety when they approached recovery with gratitude and optimism (Millstein, Celano, Beale, Beach, Suarez, Belcher, … & Huffman, 2016).

28. Facilitate the recovery of people with depression

A case study of a woman with depression revealed that the adoption of Buddhist teachings and practices, with a strong emphasis on utilizing gratitude as a recovery tool, helped her to heal (Cheng, 2015). This should be taken with a grain of salt as a case study, but there is also plenty of evidence that techniques and exercises drawn from Buddhist teachings can have profound benefits for those who practice them.

So, the old “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” may actually have to do with gratitude. This week, every week, be grateful for all He has done!

He Influenced Generations

One of the most influential evangelical theologians of the last hundred years was JI Packer. Prolific writer, deep thinker, and powerful communicator … Packer’s works changed my life. So today, I’d like to share some quotes from his works.

  • A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about him.
  • Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.
  • Psalms teach us how to worship; Proverbs, how to behave; Job, how to suffer; Song of Solomon, how to love; and Ecclesiastes, how to live.
  • To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.
  • There is no moment when God’s eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.
  • God’s way of saving men is to send out His servants to tell them the gospel, and the Church has been charged to go into all the world for that very purpose.
  • The pursuit of holiness is thus no mere private hobby, nor merely a path for a select few, but a vital element in Christian mission strategy today. The world’s greatest need is the personal holiness of Christian people.
  • Adoption is the highest privilege of the gospel. The traitor is forgiven, brought in for supper, and given the family name. To be right with God the Judge is a great thing, but to be loved and cared for by God the Father is greater.
  • A half truth masquerading as the whole truth becomes a complete untruth.
  • The Scriptures are the lifeline God throws us in order to ensure he and we stay connected while the rescue is in process.
  • The traveler through the Bible landscape misses his way as soon as he loses sight of the hill called Calvary.

I hope you have some author, someone who has influenced like JI Packer has me.

Much of these were collected here and

This Changed Me – Forever

We are on a journey. A wonderful journey called life. And though we alone are responsible in how we handle our trek, we seldom walk alone. There are those who walk with us through certain legs of our journey. Those who try to encourage and equip us for the journey. Maybe those who push us off the road too. Those who have walked before us and those who will follow. So many fellow travelers.

In this journey called life, have you ever thought about those who have really impacted you? Beyond family that is. Professors, authors, preachers, friends. The few (or many) that left a mark. For there are those you let in, those who mold you, those who invest in you. And we need to be thankful for the village that continues to mold the journey we are on, and the way we travel down the path we tred … maybe even changing our path’s direction.

I thank God for specific professors that influenced my passion, my thirst for specific fields of study, or even helped me with my style and approach to teaching/preaching/leading/discipling. I have pastors and authors that left their mark.

One such author is Henry Blackaby. HB was an influencer before there were influencers on FB, TikTok, IG, etc. He used words on a page and teaching through the mode of VHS. (For some of you, I’ll wait here why you Google what VHS is.) HB had a study called Experiencing God. This study impacted churches and individuals across the globe. His simple stick figure paradigm gave an insight to God working around us and God’s invitation for us to get involved.

The message and teachings of this study draw us to a crisis of belief that demands a life adjustment. And if I may so bold, just like Top Gun drew people into the Navy, HB’s Experiencing God was used to draw many to vocational ministry and missions.

The study as a whole, it’s scope and sequence, it’s approach and use of media changed the way discipleship was done in churches everywhere. He opened doors for great studies by Beth Moore, Claude King, Matt Chandler, Ortberg, MacDonald, Shirer, and more.

I just wanted to say thank you to Henry Blackaby and for your many works such as Experiencing God. May your tribe increase.

Maybe you need to say ‘thank you’ to someone this week. Be a blessing in return!

They Served – They Cared – And May Ever Be Appreciated

He was young. Not too long out of high school. And he received a letter. Uncle Sam wants you. The draft. The US Army had called his number. It was the 50s and the Korean conflict was in full swing.

I’m not sure everything he did, but I do know a few things. He called his girl. And pretty soon, they were married. Then after their honeymoon, he got ready to report for basic. He stood in line to get on the bus and someone tapped on his shoulder. The uniformed soldier informed him that his grades exempted him and he could go to college if he preferred.

Young. Jobless. Homeless. Newlywed. And yet, he got out of line, moved in with his in-laws, and began a life that never again heard the call of the US Government.

That’s the story my dad tells me about him and his stint in the army. He was employed briefly at the Newport News shipyard and worked as an electrical engineer apprentice on aircraft carriers. But another call came.

Later my father would serve in another branch of the service. He would join the service of the ministry. He would pastor and preach and travel up until the month our Lord called him home.

Interestingly, he introduced us to many a military personnel. We lived near Norfolk, Quantico, and other bases. My mother worked at Ft. Belvoir a bit.

In my years, I’ve met many veterans who served in multiple branches and deployments.

I’ve met WW2 vets. Marines who island hopped in the pacific. They had nightmares of the brutality they witnessed. Then there was one who flew with the Flying Tigers over China. I got to talk with an Army Airborne who went in a day before DDay. And a soldier who landed on Normandy on DDay+1. My uncle served and help liberate a concentration camp (we think, he never really talked about it.) I know a widow who had a husband at Pearl Harbor on December 7. I had a friend who was a dentist in Italy. And another who was a tail gunner over Italy and also during the Korean conflict.

I know Korean and Vietnam conflict vets. One whose testimony of how Jesus appeared will give you shivers.

I have dear friends who’ve served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait.

These generations are passing away. Their stories are being lost as just memories that fewer and fewer know.

Like the WW2 vet who still had his Gideon Bible given to him by Churchill. And his story of a few days after DDay he saw French refugees on the outside of the quickly established army camp – and they were starving. He collected rations from his brethren and threw them over the fence for the French. An officer told him that was not allowed and then the officer walked away to let them finish what they started.

They served for multiple reasons. They followed orders they often didn’t understand. They gave up prime years so our country can stand and fight for liberty.

They forever have my gratitude. One day a year we honor those still with us. One day a year is not enough.

Thank you.

Thanksgiving comes before Christmas

A best selling author once challenged a group with the thought that when we forget to express our gratitude, a sense of entitlement will easily creep into our lives. And when that attitude gets a foothold, we become less generous (a nice way of saying we get a bit selfish).

Maybe it’s not a coincidence that Christmas, a time of giving, follows our time of thanks. This order reminds us that as we stay mindful of how blessed we are, we will deeply desire to be a blessing to others.

Tony Bridwell, taken from LinkedIn

Another author said it this way …

Is the gratitude that flows out of your life as abundant as the grace that flows into you life?

So bounce these ideas around that brain of yours. Choosing gratitude will transform your life.

Glean so much from these two authors … Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth and Tony Bridwell.

Increase Your Attitude of Gratitude

Be thankful in all things. Easier said than done. Get real peeps. Life has moments that seem to be anything but fodder for gratitude.

Illness – yet may be a way to slow us down. Solitude – but may be a way for us to deepen our relationship with God, or free you up to be available to someone else in solitude and needs a friend. Mondays – have to get back to the grindstone, however it gives opportunity to put into practice what we learned in our weekend worship times. I could go on, but these are more attitude adjustments.

I came across a great article on exercises to increase one’s gratefulness. Here are four of them …

1. Take a photo everyday of something you’re thankful for. I mean, we do the 10 year photo challenge, the grandparent trophy challenge … let’s do the 5 days of gratefulness phot challenge.

2. In transactions with cashiers, baristas, waitresses, and others, take time to look at them, make eye contact and really thank them.

3. Put up gratitude ‘stop signs‘ … literally. Maybe little post-its with STOP on it to make you stop, look around, find one thing to be thankful for right then and there. Maybe a weird alarm time on your phone (11:37, etc.) and stop, look, thanks.

4. Write a eulogy for a loved one. The difference here is do it while they are still around to hear it. Give it to them as a way of saying thank you. Note: do not date it in expectation as to when the real eulogy will be needed.

Other ideas … tiny anonymous notes of gratitude left in coworkers workspace, comments on others’ FB, IG, blog … thumbs ups are great, but to take time to write a word of thanks makes a big diff, or keep a journal of blessings … such a journal helps us return to the highlights of our journey and say, ‘thank you.’

Any ideas you would like to share?

Here is the article mentioned above … go here.

AA for the Win

Though an admirable organization that has helped thousands, I am not referring to what most think of when they hear ‘AA’. But I am referring to administrative assistants … or executive assistants, or the most correct term, administrative professionals. This career path is so honorable, so essential, and so under appreciated. Now, I may be a bit biased, for my wife is the poster child for EA/AA excellence (in spite of her choice of male companionship at home).

In most organizations, the management, the executives, the C-ring get all the attention and fanfare. But let it be known now, it is those who work behind the scenes, do the duties of the administrative professionals, and keep everything together that deserve the true accolades.

  • They keep the lines of communications at the peak of excellence.
  • They organize to be the most efficient and stress free.
  • They enhance teamwork and work to establish a dependable team and a productive work environment.
  • They manage the time of their executives and eliminate distractions to ensure the the best use of the most limited resource – time.
  • And they play by Vegas rules … what happens in the office, stays in the office. They live by high standards of discretion and confidentially.

These attributes should be ones we all inspire to have. This month (last week to be more specific), we set aside time to honor and show gratitude to those that hold this profession.

Personally, I say thanks to Jean M., who puts up with so much of my strange weirdness. She truly keeps the office professional.

And to the highest ranked EA I’ve ever known, Lisa, my eternal heartfelt appreciation.

Now, for the rest of you out there, say ‘thank you’ the those around you. And don’t just do it one day a year.


Whiners Or Winners?

Please note, the use of this art was given online, but it in no way endorses anyone to give me hugs. I only used the art for I liked it in its great fit for this blog entry.

Can I grumble a minute? About people who grumble? Seems a bit ironic, or counterproductive, doesn’t it?

So let me twist it to be something productive and less whiny sounding. I encourage us to be people who are more problem solvers and helpers. We need to realize that we are winners, ones who have overcome because of what Jesus has done in and through us. We have what the world is searching for: peace, purpose, and hope. Celebrate in this.

We have what the world is searching for: peace, purpose, and hope. Celebrate in this.

So here are few things to consider as we strive to be people that are winners, not whiners …

  • Remember God is in control, so let Him stay in control (not that you can really do anything about that)
  • Think of others as more significant than yourself (significant = priority, worth more, heavier vote influence)
  • Realize it’s okay to feel anger, disappointment, longing, confusion, depression, etc. … but give that to God, don’t take it out on others. See here for a great article.
  • Intentionally look for good, look for ways God is working (even in messiness), and share the positive. Example … instead of “Manna, again!” – say, “Isn’t it great that God is faithful, He hasn’t missed a day yet in providing for our needs.”
  • Intentionally look for ways to compliment and encourage. You may see 15 things wrong with a blog (others, not mine of course … okay, maybe mine.). But you may also find 1 thing about the blog you like. So be specific and intentional to share the positive with the blogger. Seriously, share the positive … tell me … comment … let me know the one. (Just kidding, I don’t need the positive reinforcement … or do I?)
  • Ask someone to hold you accountable. Tell a friend to be honest with you about the way you come across. Tell them to point out when we talk more like whiners than winners.
  • And lastly, stay close in your love relationship with God. When we focus on the one main thing, other things seem to fade away.

I close with a comment from one who had the right to complain, if anyone ever did. Helen Keller, born blind and deaf, wrote, “I have always thought it would be a blessing if each person could be blind and deaf for a few days during his early adult life. Darkness would make him appreciate sight; silence would teach him the joys of sound.”

So, whiner? Or winner? Me … I choose the positive.

To those that read yesterday’s blog, I was not worried about the review meeting. The team and I had a great meeting … looking forward, sharpening our leadership styles, and add easing issues to help our church move forward in greater glory to God. If you’re looking for a place to get plugged in, and you’re in the Appomattox area … check us out at Evergreen Baptist. Just remember, the pastor is a bit crazy.