🙌🏼 Effects of Giving Thanks on the Body

Nov 24, 2023

New here? Welcome! I'm Martha, and I'm here to help you on your weight loss journey through blogging, podcasts, online teaching courses, and one-on-one coaching.  


Do you need some help on your journey of faith and belief? These sermons can help!

  1. Making Faith Work
  2. Hope Again In Your Future
  3. Value Driven Life
  4. Victory Over Your Past
  5. God is Healer


Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, who wrote the renowned book "Man's Search for Meaning" is a great example of this verse and an inspiration to me on living a life of meaning. 

Frankl was a Holocaust survivor, having endured the atrocities of Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

In the midst of unimaginable suffering, Frankl discovered the power of finding meaning and expressing gratitude even in the direst circumstances. He observed that those who were able to maintain a sense of purpose and gratitude had a higher chance of survival and resilience.

One particular instance that highlights this is when Frankl and his fellow prisoners were forced to work in harsh conditions, with minimal food and constant threats to their lives. In these situations, Frankl began to focus on the aspects of life for which he could be grateful. He found solace in the small moments of beauty, such as a sunrise or a shared word of encouragement among prisoners.

Through his experiences, Frankl developed a profound philosophy about the importance of finding meaning in all circumstances, no matter how difficult. He emphasized that even in the face of suffering, individuals can choose their attitude and find purpose. This mindset helped him survive the Holocaust and later contributed to his work as a psychiatrist, where he helped others find meaning in their lives.

Viktor Frankl's story is a testament to the transformative power of gratitude and the human capacity to rise above the most challenging circumstances through a positive mindset and a focus on meaning and purpose.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of "Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity" set out to discover why is gratitude so powerful.

“For too long, the concept of gratitude had been ignored,” said Emmons, director of the university’s Emmons Lab, which creates and shares scientific data on gratitude, its causes, and its potential effects on human health and well-being.
He calls it “the forgotten factor in the science of well-being."
Emmons set out to research the ways that gratitude affects our lives.
To assess people’s levels of thankfulness. He and his colleague Michael E. McCullough created a questionnaire that allowed them to compare “grateful people” to those who were less grateful.
They also found ways to cultivate gratitude in their test subjects by having them:
Keep a “gratitude journal”
Counting one’s blessings
Writing letters of thanks
He then studied the changes that occurred as a result.
The results of his studies and others — both psychological and physiological — are fascinating.
Here are 7 reasons why giving thanks is actually good for you.
1.  Boosts your health
Emmons’ and McCullough’s research showed that grateful people had less depression and stress, lower blood pressure, more energy, and greater optimism.
2.  Slows down the aging clock -
In older adults, Emmons and McCullough found that a daily practice of gratitude even slowed down some of the effects of neuro-degeneration that often occurs as we age.  (Whoop! Whoop! Count me in!)   
3.  It helps manage stress
Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” and when our bodies produce too much, it can deplete the immune system and raise blood sugar levels. A study conducted at the Institute of HeartMath Research Center in California found that positive emotions like appreciation significantly lowered levels of cortisol.
4. Healthier Relationships
Research by U.S. psychologists Sara Algoe and Baldwin Way indicates that gratitude also can lead to better relationships. When you are grateful for people, who they are in your life, and what they do for you, your body will increase the production of oxytocin, sometimes called the “bonding hormone” and this can foster calmness and security in relationships.
5.  A strong heart and ability to lose weight
According to research Emmons cites in his book Gratitude Works!, people with high blood pressure who actively express thankfulness “can achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure and decrease their dietary fat intake by up to 20 percent.”
6. Improves sleep quality - 
According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. If you spend just 15 minutes writing down a few things you are grateful for before bed, you may sleep better and longer.
7. Reduces stress and depressive symptoms - 
Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin)
Who needs medicine, just start counting your blessings!
In the Bible when Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to give thanks and the Bible says he was made whole.  

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. 12 As he entered a village there, ten men with leprosy stood at a distance, 13 crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14 He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.”[a] And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.

15 One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” 16 He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

17 Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? 18 Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you." Luke 17:11-19


Here are 5 things you can do to help you start living with gratitude: 
1. Give out compliments
Look around, and be intentional about giving out compliments. Here are a few phrases you can use:
  • I appreciate you.
  • I am so proud of you.
  • You can do hard things.
  • I see you.
  • You are so strong and resilient.
  • I believe in you.
2. Start a gratitude journal. 
It's ok to have more than one. Keep one by your bed and one on your desk, but commit to writing down at least 3 things you are thankful for every day.
3. Volunteer in your community or your church.
Serving others always causes you to be thankful.
4. Do small random acts of kindness.
Do something for someone else, not expecting anything in return.
5.  SMILE!
Just smiling at someone can brighten their day as well as yours.  
If we can live a life of gratitude before and after Thanksgiving, we will live our lives for the better.
Don’t be overcome by the chaos and craziness that is going on around you. Be an overcomer by being intentional to live with gratitude.

Here are some journal prompts to ask yourself or to discuss with a friend or small group of friends.  
1. How has being grateful and showing gratitude impacted your overall well-being?
2. Have you ever tried keeping a gratitude journal? If so, how did it affect your mindset?
3. What are some small, random acts of kindness that you have done or would like to do?
4. How does giving out compliments to yourself and others impact your self-esteem and relationships?
5. In what ways do you incorporate gratitude into your daily life?
6. What role does serving others play in fostering a sense of gratitude and happiness?
7. Do you believe that being thankful can improve your sleep quality? Have you noticed any changes in your sleep patterns when practicing gratitude?
8. How does expressing gratitude and thanksgiving align with your faith and spiritual beliefs?
9. Share an experience where a simple act of gratitude had a profound impact on your mood or outlook on life.
10. How can you intentionally incorporate more moments of thanksgiving and gratitude into your upcoming Thanksgiving celebration?