Dianne Neal Matthews here, hoping to encourage you on this second Monday of the month. This morning I’m writing with a new and improved attitude—all because I found an old file on my computer.
A few years ago, I gave a Toastmasters speech two days before Thanksgiving. Although more research has been conducted since then on the benefits of cultivating a spirit of thankfulness, I was amazed at what I had found. Studies show that being thankful holds great benefits for our mental and physical health. Holding onto a feeling of gratitude for at least 15-30 seconds causes specific physiological changes. Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to our heart. Breathing becomes deeper, raising the oxygen level of our tissues. Levels of stress hormones are decreased.
People who describe themselves as feeling grateful to others and to God tend to have higher vitality and more optimism and experience less depression than the population as a whole. Daily self-guided exercises with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, attentiveness, energy, and better sleep.
Choosing to hold on to thankful feelings is good for our character, helping us become less self-focused and more contented. Expressing gratitude to others enriches our relationships since our spouse, family members, and friends (and editors) will be more invested in the relationships if they feel appreciated.
No wonder the Bible includes so many verses that urge us to give thanks. And what a difference that made when I applied the principle to my attitude toward writing. For days I had been in a slump, dwelling on disappointments, perceived failures, and missed opportunities. I felt so far behind in the areas of technology and marketing that I would never catch up. My negativity bogged me down and made it hard to look toward the future. After reading my old speech, I deliberately decided to focus on all the successes and fulfillment the past twelve years have brought.
I looked at the books I’ve had published lined up on my bookcase. I gazed at my writing awards (all two of them) propped on top of my desk. I reread emails and written notes from readers thanking me for writing devotionals and sharing how their lives had been touched. And I found myself overwhelmed with gratitude for the privilege of writing for God and sharing his truth.
Now I’m ready to move forward to whatever God has in store for me and to move out of my marketing comfort zone and try new things. And I can sincerely wish you all a “Happy Thanksgiving” for next week.