A Thankful Heart = A Healthy Mind
With Thanksgiving upon us, now is a good time to remind ourselves why having an attitude of gratitude is important.
As Christians, we are told to give thanks. It should be a natural part of our life once we accept God’s amazing gift of salvation.
But sometimes life doesn’t go as planned and we find ourselves lacking gratitude.
When we struggle with thankfulness, it hurts every part of us: spiritual, mental, and physical.
However, it is when you struggle to find reasons to be thankful that you need to express thankfulness the most.
According to the Christian Alliance for Orphans, “Every expression of thanks elevates us. It raises our gaze: from self to God and from all we wish we had to all we’ve been given. Giving thanks also raises our hearts: from thoughtlessness or grumbling to appreciative joy.”
Read on to discover a few of the ways a thankful heart leads to a healthy mind.
No Room for Pride
Got Questions explains, “Thankfulness toward God requires a belief in God at the very least, and ingratitude fails to fulfill our responsibility to acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:5–6; Psalm 100:4). When we refuse to be thankful or to express gratitude, we grow hard-hearted and proud. We take for granted all God has given us and become our own gods.”
Pride mistakenly leads us to believe that everything in our life is due to our own achievements.
When this happens, we stop feeling the need to thank God or others.
No Space for Bitterness
As Billy Graham says, “Nothing turns us into bitter, selfish, dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. And nothing will do more to restore contentment and the joy of our salvation than a true spirit of thankfulness.”
Ungratefulness turns us bitter and hard-hearted.
We cling to hurts of the past and can’t extend forgiveness or move forward in grace.
We blame God for our struggles instead of thanking Him for helping us through some of life’s more difficult seasons.
Here’s the thing – no one wants to be bitter. Bitterness builds up over time until we become hard.
No Capacity for Discontentedness
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13
Do you find yourself always wanting more or wishing your life were more like someone else’s?
This means you are discontented.
Often, the reason people are discontented is because they are focused on what they lack instead of showing thankfulness for what they do have.
Even in our worst seasons, there is something to be thankful for.
If the Apostle Paul can be content while he was hungry and in jail, we can find reasons to be content, too.
Thankfulness Changes Your Perspective
In a hard season, it is easy to focus on what is bringing us difficulty. It can be hard to see beyond the cause of the pain.
However, if we can find reasons to be thankful, we can start to move beyond the hurt.
We can position our hearts and minds to be God-focused rather than problem-focused.
As Susan Lutz writes in Thankfulness: Even When It Hurts, “Being thankful breaks that cycle. It is one of God’s ways to reset our default mode, to renew our minds and put us in touch with our new heart, which knows that God is good. Romans 8:32 says, ‘He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?’ This needs to be our default mode.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 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.” – Philippians 4:4-7
Thankfulness Produces Joy
The more you thank God, the more you will begin to see all the reasons to thank God.
When you practice thankfulness regularly, God will change your heart.
As you move from thanking God just for the good to thanking him in all circumstances, He will change your heart.
You will feel satisfied and filled with joy.
Thankfulness Improves Your Overall Well-Being
While expressing thankfulness should set Christians apart, it is beneficial to everyone.
There have been multiple studies done that prove that being thankful improves our overall well-being.
The Christian Alliance for Orphans has a list of the benefits of a thankful heart with links to affirming studies. They write:
- Fewer destructive emotions, like envy, resentment, and frustration.
- Increased alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, and energy.
- Greater happiness and emotional well-being.
- Greater physical health — both objectively and in how we feel.
- Stronger connections with others, more willingness to help, and a happier marriage.
- More willingness to forgive the wrongs of others and less desire for revenge.
- Reduced anxiety, depression, stress, and stress hormones.
- Lower blood pressure, bad cholesterol, and markers of inflammation.
- Improved sleep quality and duration.
- Increased resilience and greater capacity to overcome trauma.
Knowing that not only are we called to be thankful as believers, but also that thankfulness is good for us, is more than enough reason for us to make a habit of expressing gratitude.
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:18