Don’t you love it when science and medicine catches up with the Bible? First Place for Health has said for years that there is a connection between a healthy body and a healthy spirit. Now there is clinical proof. The Bible tells us that people who give thanks and praise to God stay healthy and young! Psalm 103: 1-5 from the New International Version says:
Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
I have meditated on this Psalm all month. What sparked my interest is the phrase from verse two, Praise the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits, and the connection to verse five, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. I started researching and found many new studies showing how gratefulness can indeed enhance your health in a variety of ways—all clinically proven. Heart International published a journal study revealing that heart patients who had a positive and thankful outlook on life had much better results than those who did not. In fact, there is conclusive scientific evidence that thankfulness leads to happiness. It is proven that happy people live up to ten years longer than unhappy people, and optimists have a 77% lower risk of heart disease than pessimists. Those percentages are astonishing. A study from Harvard School of Medicine lists many other benefits. Can I get a thank you?
Here is a quote from Clinical Psychologist and Columbia University professor Erin Olivo, author of Wise Mind Living: master Your Emotions, Transform your Life,
“The people for whom gratitude is more of a trait than a state, we see that those people tend to be healthier. They tend to be happier. They have stronger social connections and stronger relationships. There’s some evidence that people who are more optimistic or have a grateful attitude have higher immune functioning,”
And that’s not all. Other studies show that people who practice gratefulness also have more energy, more friends, less depression, envy and greed.
The Heart International study I mentioned above also shows that grateful people tend to make more money, sleep better, adhere to exercise commitments and are less likely to get infections. Another fascinating study said this is also true for children and adolescents. The study surveyed 1,035 high-school students and found the teenagers who were most thankful had more friends and higher GPA’s. Just the opposite was true of those showing materialistic values. They had lower grades, less satisfaction with their life, and higher levels of envy and jealousy. Wow–a really good reason to get your kids to tell you at least one thing they are grateful for before they get out of the car!
For me, personally, having an attitude of gratitude is something I have to practice daily. We know we should take time and thank Him for His many blessings and forget not. The catch is—I don’t think gratefulness comes naturally. We have to train ourselves to be thankful. Here are a few disciplines we encourage in First Place for Health.
WRITE IT DOWN
Listing the things we are grateful for will help us remember to be thankful. We tend to forget His benefits and blessings. Just the very act of putting pen to paper does something to cement the act in my heart. Keeping a thankfulness journal may be exactly what you need to boost your health and lower your blood pressure. Research shows that writing down what you’re thankful for can lead to a multitude of wellness benefits.
USE YOUR WORDS
My son, Mark, took a while to speak. He really didn’t have any need for words since his two older siblings spoke for him. We finally got to the place that his pointing and funny sign language was not enough. I started telling him to use his words. The words were in his mind, and he might have been thinking “thank you” but he needed to learn to say it out loud. And so do we.
I stopped a stranger in the restaurant the other day wearing a “Vietnam Veteran” hat. My dad served two terms in Vietnam and did not receive much of a thank you when he returned. I took time and thanked this gentleman for his service to our country. I could tell it surprised and blessed him. It did not take much effort on my part. Don’t let those words or grateful thoughts go unspoken for another minute. Call that friend right now. Write that letter or card you have been putting off. Words have the power to bring hope, but you have to use them.
We have more control over our thoughts than many of us realize. Even in the hardest times, we can find a reason to be grateful. Being grateful is a decision you make, not necessarily something you might feel. I have a long-time pastor’s wife friend who is always smiling. Someone asked her once, “Why are you always smiling?” Her answer? “Because I decided to.”
The Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:18. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It certainly is not easy to give thanks in the midst of hard times, but the more we practice giving thanks in the good times, it will certainly come quicker in the hard times. Thank you, Lord, thank you, Lord, thank you…
I want to express genuine gratitude to our Lord because I truly am a grateful girl. The health benefits are just a bonus! Proverbs 17:22 is true; A cheerful heart is good medicine…
Vicki Heath, firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Resources: Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania. http://www.fastcompany.com/3039076/why-thankful-people-are-happier-and-healthier.
- Journal of Happiness Studies
- Harvard Health Publications in collaboration with Michael Craig Miller, M.D., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. 49 pages. (2013)