Maintaining Gratitude

Posted on: Nov 27, 2022

This time of year we are continually reminded of two words, thankfulness and gratitude. It’s the time we reflect upon the many blessings we have been given and show gratitude for these gifts. But did you know researchers have actually done studies on this act of giving thanks and how it makes us happier?

In one such study, psychologists asked participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that occurred that week. A second group wrote about daily irritations that happened during the week. And the third group wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After ten weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Gratitude allows us to be content with what we have rather than reaching for something new in hopes it will make us happier. Being content with what we have, who we are, and where we are in life can be a difficult task to accomplish. I know personally it has taken me years to acquire a sense of contentment that brings me joy and peace with what I have, who I am and where I am in life. It is a continual work in progress, but I’ve realized some key things that help me achieve this state, not in any particular order of importance.

Exercise - Getting my body moving for at least 30 minutes a day helps my outlook so much. If I miss this I find myself groggier and playing mental gymnastics all day.

Daily Time with God - During COVID, my husband Mike and I started doing a daily devotional together. This daily practice has become a routine that has not only strengthened our marriage but deepened our faith. Whether together, or on your own, taking that time each day to listen, pray, and contemplate His word, can change your life!

Friends - Long ago, my mom shared some great advice on friends. She said to invest my time with friends who “fill me” rather than “drain me.” It was sound advice, and I have found many lifelong friends who I’ve journeyed with over these past 30+ years. I like to think we “fill each other up.” 

Social Media - Best selling author, Rachel Cruze wrote a whole book on Love Your Life Not Theirs. In it, she shares how when we compare ourselves to others, it robs us of gratitude. Unfortunately, now with social media, it has become much too easy to peek into others’ lives and instantaneously draw a comparison. (You used to have to wait to see your co-worker to hear about their fabulous vacation, now you just open your phone and read about it.) I found a while back that social media was not always healthy for my mental state and I will routinely take breaks.

Outdoors - Whether it be hiking with a friend, taking the dog on a walk, or picking produce in my garden, I LOVE, LOVE the outdoors. Something about the fresh air and sunshine can breathe new life into a tired body or grumpy mood.   

Praying you find yourself approaching this Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons with gratitude and thankfulness. If you need to, take control of those things in your life that might be robbing you of this grateful mindset. It may take time and effort, but YOU are worth it!!

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Diane Kar
Coordinator of Rock 45 and Family Faith Formation
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