April 1, 2019

Creating an Active Culture of Gratitude in Your Home

As children, we were often reminded by our parents to say, “Thank you,” because it was the polite thing to do. But how many of us have given thought to the far-reaching impact of those two simple words?  

Paul reminds us to give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV). What are the benefits of expressing gratitude in all circumstances? For the person cultivating a grateful heart, the benefits are countless.

A recent study from the National Institute of Health concluded that feeling grateful activates our hypothalamus, the part of our brain which plays a role in our appetite, our emotions, our sleep, our body temperature, our blood pressure, and many other body functions. Studies also show that individuals dealing with body pain felt less pain when they kept a gratitude journal. Saying “thank you” and sharing other expressions of gratitude increase the positive energy between the giver and the receiver, and have been shown to positively impact our mood. This positive force has the potential of spreading to others with an infectious effect.

Gratitude has been shown to improve the quality of marital relationships, as well as the relationship dynamics in the workplace. A culture of gratitude involves more than the usual “thank-you” comments at the Thanksgiving table. It compels people to engage in active acts of gratitude outside the usual perfunctory “thank you” repeated routinely in our private and public prayers.

Active expressions of gratitude help us keep our minds on our blessings while dimming the spotlight on what we don’t have. A culture of gratitude helps us maintain a sense of optimism and hope. The benefits to our wellbeing are too far-reaching to not make this life-enhancing gift an active part of our everyday life. Parents are to instill gratitude in their children during the early formative years, and create in their home a setting where the spirit of gratitude thrives. Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude in your home:

  1. Encourage each family member to keep a gratitude journal and share gratitude notes during daily family worship time, and throughout the day.
  2. At weekly family vespers include a “Count your blessings” feature where family members share blessings experienced that week. The member identifying the most blessings gets acknowledged.
  3. Place a gratitude board in your home where members pin thank you notes addressed to each other and to God. Parents can use gratitude stickers on the board for the younger children.
  4. Set aside a day once a week when family members offer only prayers of gratitude during family devotions.
  5. Make “thank you” a popular phrase in your home and create an active culture of gratitude.