By Kathy Ferguson, RN, Parish Nurse
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. 1 Chronicles 16:34
It is the time of year when everyone’s focus is on giving thanks. Certainly, 2020 has been a different year and some may say that there’s not much for which to be thankful. I beg to differ! There are always things to be thankful for!
According to Harvard Health Publishing’s Healthbeat: “…gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.”
Research has shown that one may receive many benefits by practicing gratitude. These benefits include: making us happier, improving physical and psychological health, sleeping better, improving self-esteem, reducing materialism, and making us more giving.
What can you do to include gratitude into your life?
Write a thank-you note. Make a habit of sending at least one thank you note/gratitude letter a month. If you aren’t able to be with family and friends this year for the holidays, considering writing a letter to people with whom you usually gather to tell them why you are thankful for them.
Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you and mentally thank the individual.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down, or share with a loved one, thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.
Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings. Pick a number that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
Choose one meal a week or a month that is designated as “Gratitude Dinner (or breakfast or lunch)”. During this meal, each person takes time to list three things they are thankful for from the past week or month.
Thank the Lord for all of the blessings He has brought to your life.
I asked some people what they are thankful for in 2020. I received a lot of great responses that covered a variety of blessings: good health, ability to go to church weekly, friends and family, COVID-19 precautions, the time to slow down and reflect, ability to work from home, job security, all of the essential people who managed their jobs in a safe way, living in a beautiful part of Minnesota and the recreational activities it gives us, and even Wi-Fi.
Some quotes from the individuals who responded:
“First and foremost I am thankful for the gift of faith and God’s infinite grace to sustain me in this time and abundant blessings of family, friendship, and health.” Pastor Anjanette Bandel
“I’m thankful that family and friends are still the components that make us keep going and give us a reason to take care of each other even with social distance and other Covid-19 guidelines.” Rachel Hasley
“Thankful for in 2020: For the life and friendship of Pastor Robert Onkka; That we were able to celebrate Pastor Wahl’s 41 years of ministry in a safe way; For the reminder that we take so many little, seemingly insignificant things for granted (like getting a haircut, buying toilet paper or giving someone a hug).” Cindy Bahler
“Of all of the blessings that I do have, I think what I am most thankful for is that I have remained healthy. This has allowed me to continue to be able to care for and assist three elderly individuals that I have helped for many years. I cherish the opportunity to help and support them, which I can only do if I remain healthy. Thanks be to God!” Sue Garcia
“On my mind and in my prayers, are the residents of long care facilities and the people who care for them. I am deeply grateful for their daily love and care.” Pastor Linda Helberg
“Thankful for a God who is there for me no matter what state the world is in.” Jim Bahler
What am I thankful for?
I am thankful for my Bethel family. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on my table. I am thankful for the great abundance that the Lord has provided to me. I am thankful for my children and grandchildren. I am thankful for you.
How about you? What are you thankful for? Take a few minutes today to write down or mentally list the things you are thankful for.
“What if today, we were just grateful for everything?” Charlie Brown of Peanuts fame
Happy Thanksgiving! Be well.
Ackerman, C. E. (2020). The 28 benefits of gratitude. Retrieved from: https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/
Harvard Health Publishing (n.d.). Giving thanks can make you happier. Healthbeat. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
Morin, A. (2015). 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude. Psychology Today. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/what-mentally-strong-people-dont-do/201504/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude