In 2011 Harvard University concluded a study on the psychological effects of gratitude. To much of everyone’s surprise, gratitude holds the key to mental, emotional, and spiritual health.The research show that managers who say “thank you” to their employees yield better productivity than those who rule with an iron fist. Couples who build into their relationship intentional conversations to thank their partner are considerably more likely to manage conflict and talk openly about their feelings than couples who do not. Religious people who take time to handwrite thank you letters are happier than those who do not.
With any research study, there is bias, but these results on how gratitude effects the human condition, though, do not shock me. Showing gratitude is healing.
The Harvard Research Center concluded their findings with this statement: “The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
I could not agree more. Gratitude connects our souls to God as we are reminded that “every good and perfect gift comes from above” (James 1:17). So approach this holiday season with the awareness that our gratitude brings us closer to being whole and the holy. Be mindful of the good things that orbit your days and learn to recognize they are from God.
We as a church have a lot to be thankful for. I am grateful to be your pastor, and I am excited to see how God continues to move among us in the days ahead. As far as I am concerned, the fun has just begun!