Posted by: Philip Rushton | November 24, 2014

Gratitude And The Common Good

It has been well documented that gratitude is good for your mental health. I came across a New York Times article today, which surveys a number of psychological studies that have shown how gratitude can reduce depression and anxiety, make you more optimistic, and improve your relationships with others. One study showed that people suffering from neuromuscular problems were much more optimistic and were able to sleep better if they kept a gratitude journal. So while the Thanksgiving holiday may not be very good for our waistline, it appears to be pretty good for our psychological well-being!

However, while the psychological benefits of gratitude have been well documented, less has been said about the impact gratitude can have on society. I am convinced that gratitude has more to offer than individual catharsis. I believe the sustained practice of gratitude has the potential to shape us into people who can bring about positive change in our world. The act of giving thanks should not be relegated to nostalgic Norman Rockwell-esque settings. Gratitude is a counter-cultural act that can help reverse the dysfunctional patterns of our society.

In her talk, “Known By Our Gratitude” (embedded below), Ann Voskamp articulates, “if you are grateful you are not fearful, and if you are not fearful, you are not violent but peaceful. If you are grateful you act out of the truth of abundance rather than the myth of scarcity, and you become a source of generosity that we so desperately need.” The very act of gratitude can set us on a virtuous trajectory. Gratitude breaks us out of the cycles of selfishness, fear, greed, and anxiety, which lie at the root of many of our social and relational problems. Voskamp suggests, then, that doxology is a key practice in driving out the darkness in our world. She reminds us that on the night he was betrayed, Jesus broke bread and gave thanks! In the midst of his confrontation with evil he chose a weapon of gratitude.

If you have a few minutes this week, I would highly recommend this short talk by Ann Voskamp. She provides a refreshing perspective on the old tradition of giving thanks. Gratitude, I believe, is a key spiritual practice that enables us to be light in a dark world.

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Responses

  1. Hi Phil, Thank you for this good message!! it was by reading ann voskamp’s book and blogs that I started keeping a thankful journal. In my 2nd thankful journal I’m up to #1025 …..enjoying a long good real conversation this morning with Henry while we were still in our pjs. Blessings to you and Julie and James. I’m thankful for you guys. That’ll be #1026.love, Victoria

    From: Intersect To: soaringblocks@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, November 24, 2014 3:42 PM Subject: [New post] Gratitude And The Common Good #yiv9646920241 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv9646920241 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv9646920241 a.yiv9646920241primaryactionlink:link, #yiv9646920241 a.yiv9646920241primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv9646920241 a.yiv9646920241primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv9646920241 a.yiv9646920241primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv9646920241 WordPress.com | Philip Rushton posted: “It has been well documented that gratitude is good for your mental health. I came across a New York Times article today, which surveys a number of psychological studies that have shown how gratitude can reduce depression and anxiety, make you more optimi” | |


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