If you ask me the single greatest practice to cultivating a more beautiful life–the one thing that can and will make a tremendous difference in your life–my answer is simple. No spiritual rocket science here. It’s thanksgiving.
Giving thanks, practicing gratefulness, saying “Thank You” and living a life of appreciation radically changes your outlook on life. Even in tough times, thankful people are resilient people. I know it’s hard to be thankful when you’re being body-slammed and crushed in a BlackFriday dog-pile for a deeply-discounted big-screen TV. But cultivating thankfulness on a daily basis has incredible health benefits in many ways…
Let me give you a simple example from my own life. I absolutely love sycamore trees. Whenever I see the golden leaves of a sycamore tree contrasted against deep blue sky (just like in the photo above), my heart and mind go to a place of beauty, wonder and awe. This, in turn, leads to gratefulness as I consider how truly stunning sycamore trees are.
Believe me, I have plenty of days when I’m in a mind-numbing coma of busyness and preoccupation as I cruise past dozens of sycamores and don’t even wonder, “Syca-what?” But… but… loving sycamores and being grateful for sycamores led me to plant two sycamore trees this year at The Grove. Boom! Gratefulness led to more oxygen for you and future beauty for others!
I also know from personal experience that when I practice thanksgiving, I am far more peaceful and content in that deep, soulful place I find only when I meander down the path of gratefulness.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that thankful people are healthy people. #thanksgiving Joey O'ConnorTweet Quote
Right here, right now… what are you grateful for?
I recently read an article about Robert Emmons, who is a leading researcher at the University of California at Davis, and his research on the health benefits of practicing gratefulness. His studies have found the many physical and emotional health benefits for those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude.”
Note: We’re not talking about saying a quick grace around the Thanksgiving table. Those who benefit the most from practicing gratefulness are those who make it a regular lifestyle (i.e. a permanent state of mind).
Grateful people, according to Emmons and Lisa Aspinwall, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, may be more likely to:
- take better care of themselves physically and mentally
- engage in more protective health behaviors and maintenance
- get more regular exercise
- eat a healthier diet
- have improved mental alertness
- schedule regular physical examinations with their doctor
- cope better with stress and daily challenges
- feel happier and more optimistic
- avoid problematic physical symptoms
- have stronger immune systems
- maintain a brighter view of the future
Their research only confirms what the Bible has told us all along…
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Colossians 3:15
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phil. 4:6
With so many physical, emotional and spiritual benefits, who wouldn’t want to practice thanksgiving on a daily basis? Joey O'ConnorTweet Quote
The older I get, the more I am adopting a simpler outlook on life.
Grateful people are beautiful people.
Grateful people don’t have any less problems or pain than others.
The key distinctive between grateful people and people who are, hmm, angry-bitter-entitled-cynical-self-loathing-whining-victims, is that grateful people have the deep inner resources to maintain perspective when everything is falling into the crapper all around them.
Grateful people smile. Not only does that make them more healthy, a smile makes them more beautiful.
I’m going to let you get to your turkey and fixings and family now.
I’m grateful for you taking the time to read this today. I’m grateful for being able to listen one of my favorite albums, O Brother, Where Art Thou, as I write.
I’m grateful for my beautiful wife, my kids, my adorable granddaughter, all my family and friends.
And pumpkin pie! Oh my… okay, I’ll stop now.
Question: I’d love to hear from you… what you are grateful for this Thanksgiving?
You’ve just read: Grateful People are Beautiful People
Click here to comment on Joey’s Art, Life & Faith blog now. (Not via email)