The habit of giving thanks is scientifically proven to affect physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Psychologist Luciana Paiva says “Gratitude has the power to ‘shield’ people from the difficulties of life. That’s because grateful people are able to forgive more easily, are less narcissistic, more generous, and this feeling is reflected in the body as a whole. Grateful people tend to see life in a more positive way, which provides invigorating tranquility. In addition, they have a lower rate of anxiety and aggression.”¹
Being grateful can relieve physical pain
According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences journal, grateful people experience less pain and report feeling healthier than others. Gratitude is associated with higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) and lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL). It interferes with the quality and intensity of sleep, allowing the individual to feel well physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When you go to sleep and start worrying about life’s struggles, stress increases, and the quality of sleep decreases. But if you think about things for which you are grateful, peace comes to keep you company and your sleep will be restful.
Disease attaches itself to the body through negative thoughts. When we exercise feelings of gratitude, the brain takes care of releasing substances for the better functioning of the organs.
Paraphrasing Martin Luther, “You can’t stop birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting.” Negative thoughts can arise in the mind, but don’t let them settle. Fill this space with uplifting thoughts.
Nothing tends more to promote health of body and of soul than does a spirit of gratitude and praise.Ministry of Healing, p. 251
Even in the midst of problems or illness, if we have our hearts filled with gratitude, our immune system is strengthened, and joy and gratitude do what other medicine cannot do.
Do you remember the story of Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Porter? Pollyanna was a girl who saw beauty in everything and was always grateful even when things weren’t going well. One day, she went to visit a lady who was sick, and she was sad to see that this lady always saw “clouds” in every sunny day. The girl tried everything she could to make the lady see life in color, but the woman complained about everything and everyone. If it was raining, she wished it were sunny. If the day was sunny, she thought it’d be better if it rained. She was adamant she couldn’t do anything because she was an invalid.
Pollyanna finally managed to get the woman to start making patchwork quilts to help people in need. Over time, the lady began to feel joy for life. She stopped complaining and started to be thankful instead. The sun shone bright again! Her health began to improve and, in a short time, that surly woman, who depended on people for a minimum of comfort, brought hope to the homes and hearts of the people around her.
Let patience, gratitude, and love keep sunshine in the heart though the day may be ever so cloudy.The Ministry of Healing, 393