Research Scientist Dr. Barbara Fredrickson studied the role of gratitude in our daily lives. It might not be surprising that she observed a direct correlation between Gratitude and Joy. It is easy to imagine that joyful people have a lot to be grateful for. What she actually discovered however, was more profound. She discovered that it was not joy that made people grateful, rather it was being grateful that led people to joy.
Roman politician and philosopher Cicero said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others,” and St. Ambrose said, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.” I believe they are both absolutely right.
As you contemplate your own level of gratefulness, allow me to submit five elements of gratitude for your consideration:
1. Gratitude is Omni-Situational: No matter how bad things may seem, God has a plan to protect and keep you. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “Pray always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18 NASB)
2. Gratitude is Positional: Just the fact God loves us so much demands a grateful response. Jesus told the former leper, “Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” (Matt 8:4 MSG)
3. Gratitude is Relational: A grateful heart recognizes that our relationship with God far outweighs any challenges this life may bring.
4. Gratitude is Foundational: When Jonah was in the belly of the Whale (or fish,) he recognized that God was on His throne and still in control. It would be much harder to be grateful if the fight wasn’t fixed.
5. Gratitude is Sacrificial: Often we have to let go of our own self-focus to realize the need to be grateful to God and others. There are few things more notable or touching than a suffering or disadvantaged person who takes time out to say “Thank you!”
So smile! You have a lot to be grateful for!