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Got to Be Grateful
by Tom Goodman
April 23, 2008

Does "counting your blessings" really help?  According to recent research, it does.

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough asked 201 students in a health psychology class to respond to a weekly questionnaire.  They were rated their well-being, tested on a measure of gratefulness, and then reported on their physical health and level of exercise.

The students were divided into three groups.  The first group listed five things they were grateful for each week -- things like simply "waking up this morning," or "for wonderful parents," or "the Lord for just another day."  The second group listed five hassles or irritants from the past week -- such as "hard to find parking," "messy kitchen," or "having a horrible test in health psychology."  The final group simply wrote down five random events or circumstances from the past week.

After ten weeks, guess what the researchers discovered.  It's no surprise that the students in the gratefulness group scored significantly higher than the hassles group on the gratefulness measure.  But as they thought about the upcoming week -- and life in general -- they also were more positive.  They were even healthier than both the "hassles" and "random events" groups, and they reported significantly more hours of exercise.

When Emmons and McCullough adjusted the experiment from a weekly assignment to a daily one, the results were even more remarkable.  The researchers found that when people took time to make a daily review of what they were grateful for, the respondents reported a better overall emotional outlook, significantly more sleep, and feeling more refreshed when they woke up in the morning.

Of course, another benefit of gratitude is that it can lead you to the Giver of all good gifts.   I vividly remember one young woman who joined one of my "seeker classes."  She said, "Here's why I'm a part of this study:  I just had a baby and my life is filled with so much joy.  I want to know who to thank."

What a profound statement!  This young woman recognized that much of the wonder and joy in her life could not be attributed to anything she had earned.  Perhaps for the first time in her life, she felt an overwhelming sense of what could only be described as gratitude, and for her that implied a Giver.  It led her on a search for Someone to thank.

Whether you are a believer or someone who needs to start a spiritual search, review the many reasons to be grateful today.  As the research shows, it does a body good!

Drop By the Blog, Leave a Comment.  At my weblog, "Get Anchored," every Sunday I post a new "Song of the Week" (This week, Phil Keaggy's cover of the Van Morrison song, "When Will I Ever Learn to Live in God").  Also, every Tuesday I post some entertaining and informative "Links to Your World."  This week, you can also discover Four Doors of Change that leaders take people through.

Staff News.  At the staff columns this week, Gene reports that Hillcrest is in the top 100 Texas Baptist churches in giving to the 2007 Annie Armstrong offering for North American missions.  Also, Herb explains why we're asking you to fill out a Connection Card each week in the service, Courtney reports on her IGNITE (College and Career) Bible study progress, Jim reports on the money raised at the 30 Hour Famine, and BJ reminds parents to pick up your kids from the Hillcrest Kids programs on time!

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