Elie Wiesel said, "When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude." Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor and political activist who had a great deal to say about humanity. Many researchers have studied the relationship of gratitude to a person's health and well-being. People who are grateful typically feel more optimistic and better about their lives as a whole. People who have a disposition of gratitude report lower levels of depression and stress, but they aren't "Pollyannas."
What Does the Bible Say About Gratitude?
1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In every thing give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
John 6:11: "Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat."
I Chronicles 16:34: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."
Psalm 9:1: "I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."
Philippians 4:6 7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
The Bible isn't the only religious book that notices gratitude. Gautama Buddha said, "Good men and bad men differ radically. Bad men never appreciate kindness shown them, but wise men appreciate and are grateful. Wise men try to express their appreciation and gratitude by some return of kindness, not only to their benefactor, but to everyone else."
Dr. Mustafa Mahmud said, "Thankfulness consists of deeds, it does not consist of [simply] saying 'alhamdulillah' by the tongue." In Hebrew, the term which means gratitude is "hakarat hatov." It is literally translated as "recognizing the good." You might lose your job, but still have your health. You can recognize the good, while dealing with the bad to keep a better perspective. There isn't a limit to what we do not have, and it is very easy to have a bleak outlook without gratitude for what we do have.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
One of the best ways to practice gratitude is to keep a journal. And you're probably thinking that you don't have time to write down what you're grateful for each day. Here are some alternatives:
Talk to a loved one about what you are grateful for. Make it a question over dinner or right before bed. Ask "What was the best part of your day?" or "What made you happy today?" Be mindful of what makes you grateful. Notice things in the moment, like the flower along your path, how good your lunch tastes or something a friend does for you. Take pictures of things that make you happy and grateful. Keep a special folder for when you need a pick-me-up.
Even if you do not believe in a higher power, you can still enjoy gratitude. Tell your family how much they mean to you when they do simple things that might otherwise go unnoticed. Having a positive outlook can really change your life. The "law of attraction," which is a philosophy where a person focuses "on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life." Some people believe there is no scientific proof that the law of attraction works and it is a false science. The reality might be that by focusing on positive experiences and gratitude we recognize more positive influences in our lives. Gratitude can change your outlook. Take a few minutes today and recognize what you are grateful for.