It’s that time of year! Thanksgiving!! A time where we stop to thank God for all He’s done for us and we begin to set our hearts and minds onto the future.
I’ve heard it said the more gratitude you express the more abundance you experience. It’s been scientifically proven after 21 days of expressing gratitude you retrain your brain to start scanning the world for positive things.
The University of California-Berkeley did a 3-year research project costing over $5 ½ million dollars on the topic of gratitude. Their findings showed being grateful and keeping a journal of gratitude, instead of complaining, resulted in better sleep, fewer symptoms of illness, more happiness, less anxiety and depression, increased self-esteem, less stress and reduced negativity.
Living with gratitude is part of the life of faith. Being grateful for what you have is the first step to applying faith for what you don’t have manifested in your life.
There's a part of the brain, we will call area 1 located in the emotional area, that releases cortisol putting us into a high stress awareness of danger and causes us to have a hyper reactive emotional state. Another part of the brain is where our empathy, compassion and gratitude are exercised and oxytocin is released. We will call this area 2. Oxytocin is both relational and experiential. Just like God! When Oxytocin is released it goes over to the first part of the brain and calms the stress. But it doesn’t stop there. It will also go over to a 3rd part of the brain. Now this 3rd part of the brain will release dopamine that helps you feel calm, happy and safe!
Brains are so cool! AND God is so cool for making the brain!
Gratitude is not just tactical. It's not just something to do on a task list. There’s a purpose to being thankful. The Bible tells us, “We enter his gates with Thanksgiving into his courts with praise.” Stay with me here… The Bible has now confirmed what science says. When we are grateful we enter His gates and when that happens we stop all stress, fear and anxiety and you feel calm, happy and safe.
Once you feel calm happy and safe then Philippians says to, “Think on these things, things that are good, pure, perfect, lovely and a good report.” Your brain physically cannot focus on those things while you are stressed. You must engage gratitude. You have to feel it and experience it for your brain to release oxytocin and dopamine and you will enter His gates.
Thankfulness will prepare you for the renewing of your mind!
I want to challenge you to write gratitude for 30 days. Start each morning by writing 3 things you are grateful for and really sit in it and feel it. Make that brain work! Then each night write down 10 good things that have happened that day. Even if it’s just that I didn’t eat ice cream, or I ATE ice cream, or I watched the sunset or my heater/ac works. ANYTHING! That way you are being intentional with your gratitude and you’re experiencing that gratitude and you’re doing it all because of your intimate relationship with your loving Father.
The goal isn't just to write something down and that’s it. You want to engage it. For example, even when we get into our word of faith declarations and confessions of faith, we're not just making a confession of faith. The act of a confession of faith doesn't bring the same kind of impact if you can’t imagine it. You've overlaid the template of God's Word onto the details of your life and you're envisioning hope and a future.
Takes gratitude to whole new level doesn’t it?