Science and the Bible agree on Gratitude

Science and the Bible agree on Gratitude

By Pr. Rhoda Klein Miller.

Our default mindset is to focus on threats and negativity. While neurobiologists might attribute this mental trait as an evolutionary advantage for survival, Christians know sin and evil as the source of a pessimistic perspective and fearful mindset.

We have an Enemy who delights in our despair. You likely know from experience what the professionals confirm; it takes intentionality and sometimes hard work to counter this ‘alarmist’ wiring.  However developing an attitude of gratitude has proven to be an effective strategy well worth the effort. There are dozens of passages in Scripture that connect “giving thanks” as a practice of worship and key to spiritual resilience.

The Bible and science agree a grateful disposition improves overall wellbeing. Research verifies grateful people experience better sleep quality, immunity and relationship enjoyment. One study saw levels of frustration, regret and resentment decrease when appreciative thinking increased. People of faith seem to have an advantage acknowledging the goodness in their lives by embracing the source of it in a higher power.

At the heart of every Jewish holiday (including the Sabbath) are prayers reminding people their very existence and every victory is credited to God alone. John Wesley a Christian revivalist of the 1700’s emphasized the “optimism of grace” and devoted one day a week to offering prayers of gratitude. For the non-religious, rituals such as daily gratitude journaling can help improve one’s outlook and emotional resilience. 

David Cregg a researcher at Ohio State University finds “a great deal of evidence that individuals who are higher in the trait of gratitude have flourishing lives.”  And King David, author of Psalm 118 writes “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”