I have a friend who often begins in conversation with the question “What made you smile today?” It is a simple but profound question and one that I appreciate. Taking the time to really think about the answer and discuss why, always feels like a worthwhile activity that leaves me with a healthy perspective.
With the stresses of the busy lives we lead, it can be easy to focus solely on the problems and the things that haven’t gone as we would like. In focusing on the problems, we can forget or overlook some of the positive experiences that occur on a daily basis. Looking for opportunities to savour the moment and create positive emotions is important for our wellbeing but more importantly, we follow the commands God gives us in his Word. There are many Bible verses regarding thankfulness and gratitude and some of my favourites come from Psalms and Thessalonians.
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 100:4-5
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
A 2005 study^ showed that people who used specific exercises to focus on the good things in their lives experienced increased happiness and decreased depressive symptoms. The exercises involved follow the daily practice of writing down three things that went well during the day as well as an explanation of why. The three positive experiences can be small things (watching a beautiful sunrise) or big events (achieving a long term goal). The exercises work best when done on a daily basis and while it may be difficult at first, the process gets easier with practice. A possible application of this process is to record the daily gratitude lists in a journal and use it as the basis of prayer. Or perhaps families could individually complete this task and then discuss during the evening meal or before going to bed. If you find yourself or your children focusing on negative feelings, try this activity to establish an ongoing thankfulness for the blessings God has given.
When Christ rules in our lives, thankfulness overflows. Even in the saddest of times, we can praise God for his love, his rule over all creation and his promise to never let us go.
Head of Secondary Years
^Seligman, M. E., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology progress: empirical validation of interventions. American Psychologist, 60(5), 410.