Make This Summer About Feeling Grateful by Jen Lawrence
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says that we should “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” God did not press this notion upon Paul because it was good for Him, but because it was good for us.
Psychology studies have shown that grateful people live happier lives. UC Berkley Professor Robert Emmons, the foremost expert on gratitude, has discovered that the benefits of gratitude include: a stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, better sleep, more joy in life, higher levels of generosity and compassion, better relationships, and a greater ability to forgive. It’s certainly a habit worth cultivating!
There are so many things to be thankful for this summer. Here are some ways to take stock of all of the blessings in your life:
- Give thanks to God. Every day, give thanks to God for something positive in your life. In the summer, there are so many things for which to be grateful. Thank God for the cute toddler with the drippy ice cream cone. Thank God for the sunshine and the warmth. Thank God for food and friends and time to enjoy your family. The possibilities are endless.
- Get out in nature. Have you ever sat on the dock at someone’s cottage and looked up at the night sky? It’s hard not to believe in something bigger. Max Lucado wrote: “Nature is God’s workshop. The sky is his resume. You want to know who God is? See what he has done.” Nature is a beautiful reminder that it’s a big wide world out there and there is a larger purpose to all that we do. Walk through the forest. Skip stones on a river. Spend some time watching the waves crash onto the shore. Sit outside in the night air and listen to the crickets. It’s all good for the soul.
- Keep a gratitude journal. Emmons discovered the power of writing down your blessings. You can keep a separate gratitude journal or add a gratitude section to your prayer journal, if you keep one. It may feel awkward writing things down at first, but soon it will become a habit.
- Leave gratitude reminders around your house and in your car. I have a graphic in my office that quotes Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.*” It’s a constant reminder to give thanks in all circumstances.
An attitude of gratitude has the power to transform your life. This summer, work on building a gratitude practice that will serve you well all year.