The idea that practicing gratitude increases overall happiness has been a mainstream concept for years. Long-term studies support gratitude’s effectiveness, suggesting that a positive, appreciative attitude contributes to greater success in work, better health, peak performance in sports and business, a higher sense of well-being, and a faster recovery rate from surgery.
But while we may acknowledge gratitude’s many benefits, it still can be challenging to sustain. We often notice what is broken, undone, or lacking in our lives. For gratitude to meet its full healing potential, it needs to become more than just a Thanksgiving word. We have to learn a new way of looking at things, a new habit. Gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are whitewashed or ignored. It’s more a matter of where we put our focus and attention. Gratitude balances us and gives us hope.
Keep a gratitude journal and list things for which you are thankful. You can make daily, weekly, or monthly lists. We can pretend to be grateful, even if the underlying emotion right now is fear, or anger, or anxiety, or depression.
This message is an excerpt from a Women of the ELCA blog by Kathryn Haueisen. Today is the fifth Sunday of Easter. We remember Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, who died in 373.