A study by Robert Emmons divided volunteers into three groups that each made weekly entries in journals. One group wrote five things they were grateful for. One described five daily hassles. And a control group listed five events that had impacted them in a small way. The results of the study reveal that those in the gratitude group felt better about their lives overall, were more optimistic about the future, and reported fewer health problems.
Giving thanks has a way of changing the way we look at life. Thanks-giving can even make us happier.
The Bible has long extolled the benefits of giving thanks to God as doing so reminds us of God’s character. The Psalms repeatedly call God’s people to give God thanks because “the Lord is good and his love endures forever” (Psalm 100:5) and for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31).
As he closes his letter to the Philippians—the letter itself a kind of thank-you note to a church that had supported him—Paul links thankful prayers with the peace of God “which transcends all understanding” (4:7). When we focus on God and His goodness, we find that we can pray without anxiety, in every situation, with thanksgiving. Giving thanks brings us a peace that uniquely guards our hearts and minds and changes the way we look at life. A heart full of gratitude nurtures a spirit of joy.