Living a Life of Gratitude!

be-thankful-always-color-foJesus in the story of the Ten Lepers gives a very powerful example of feeling grateful and expressing gratitude, (Luke 17:11-19). One of the lepers, the Samaritan, obviously experienced healing to the fullest because his attitude toward life was shaped by his gratefulness after his healing. The other nine took the experience for granted it seems and therefore did not experience the depth of gratitude they might have but simply went on with the busy life they now could live.

“Stand up and go,” Jesus says to the one who returned and thanked him for his healing. “Your faith has saved you.”

The story highlights the need to express thankfulness – in the case of the leper it is his thankfulness to God for the graces received in the person of Jesus – and the connection with being healed, being whole.

There is a lesson here about living a life of gratitude.

Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, and a leading academic in a field called “positive psychology,” has done extensive work on this. Positive psychology uses scientific research and intervention to promote the achievement of a satisfactory life, rather than focusing on mental illness.

Emmons describes gratitude as an emotional state and an attitude toward life that enhances personal and relational wellbeing. He states that gratitude is strongly associated with increased happiness and enables people to relish good experiences, to deal effectively with adversity and to build strong and healthy relationships.

Another scholar, Martin Seligman, tested the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to draft and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to a person in their life whom they had never properly thanked for his or her kindness, results showed an enormous increase in happiness scores. This was larger than any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

Naturally, studies such as this cannot prove immediate cause and effect, but there is at least a strong correlation between gratitude and a person’s wellbeing.

When we live lives of gratitude for all that God has done for us, we indeed are filled with joy. Our happiness increases in manifold measure.

They demonstrate what Jesus taught two millennia ago, and what positive psychology has focused on in recent years: that there is indeed a relationship between expressing gratitude and happiness. Try it and find out for yourself!

Return daily and give thanks! God’s grace will fill you with joy, peace and well-being!