Thanksgiving & Gratitude

 

I really do like WINTER; but as I look out my window on this mid-November day and see all the snow and realize it will be here for the next 5-6 months I can get a little down.  Like I said, I do like WINTER, just not this much.  So what’s a guy to do instead of getting cabin fever?

Well…

We can start with our thoughts!

Over the past several years I have learned a lot about the science behind our thoughts.  It’s been very intriguing and fascinating for me to study it out and do the research.  I’ve learned some extraordinary things about the brain and how it functions.  For instance, for years I struggled with a porn addiction that started in my teen years – this was a major sin issue in my life (my physical and thought life).  The Bible talks a lot about the physical and metal damage that can happen to a person involved with sin (read Romans 1).  Here’s what I think is really cool, there is now science that confirms what the Bible has taught for years.   I learned that there are 3 chemicals the brain produces during the engagement of deviant behavior and each chemical is extremely addictive.  WHOA!  No wonder pornography is such a huge issue for guys today and a secret sin for many (for more info and the science behind it consider Dr Mark Laaser’s work with Faithful and True Ministries).

danielplan-squareBut what does this have to do with Thanksgiving and Gratitude?  Just as there are addictive chemicals being produced in the brain during deviant activities there are also addictive chemicals being produced each time we have a positive or negative thought.  Dr. Daniel Amen talks about it in The Daniel Plan (The Daniel Plan, 40 Days to a Healthier Life – Chapter 6 FOCUS).  He states that our emotions will drive our behavior:

  • Getting your mind right will lead to overall health
  • Our thoughts impact our health
  • Positive thoughts produce positive chemicals in the brain, while negative thoughts will produce negative chemicals in the brain.

I really like what Traci Castaneda had to say on her blog about gratitude, You Can Read It Here.  She gave some great ideas on gratitude and I would like to add a few other thoughts to it.

Thanksgiving and Gratitude go hand in hand.

I remember several years ago I was struggling with slight depression.  I was just out of college and working my first job.  At the time, I was living and working in Hagerstown, MD, as a school teacher and P/T Youth Pastor. I loved my role and the people I worked with; however, the first few months were very tough on me because I moved out there and didn’t know anyone.  I remember one November night I was home alone and extremely down mentally.  I started have extremely negative thoughts about my life and how lonely I was.  And it was in that moment that I heard God talking to my heart.  He told me to take a piece of paper out and start writing down all the things I should be thankful for.  I obeyed and I’m glad I did.

As the evening went on, I came up with several pages of things I was thankful for… I just walked around my apartment listing off all the stuff that I had acquired (free) just to have my apartment furnished.  I also listed off all kinds of other stuff that God provided for me and as I said I had a pages worth of items.  After completing the list I sat down on my chair and a feeling of gratitude came over me… I could not explain it at the time but my feelings of depression had drifted away.  Now, as I read articles by Dr Laaser and Dr Amen, it makes sense to me.  As I thought about how lonely I was my brain was producing negative chemicals and when I was thinking about how thankful I was I started producing positive chemicals in my brain.  Both chemicals are addictive and perpetuate over time.  So, think about this – Negative people tend to be negative because they are actually addicted to their negative thoughts.  Ouch!

Talk About It!

  1. Do you tend to be negative, especially this time of year (less sun and warmth)? Then come up with your gratitude list.  Again, Traci Castaneda has some great ideas on her blog.
  2. Start investigating your negative thoughts to see if you are believing lies about yourself or circumstances in your life.  Yes, life sucks sometimes – but many times it’s not as bad as we think, so start processing your thoughts.
  3. Share your thoughts with your friends.  If you are feeling down then talk with them and remember to thank them for listening and end the conversation on a positive note.

Thanks for reading today’s blog; if you would like to know more about Pastor Terry please check out his other post at the Real Life blog.

12 thoughts on “Thanksgiving & Gratitude

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  5. Terry, I’ve read this a couple of times and am so struck by the chemical component of gratitude. I think we’ve all been there, “feeling good” about certain actions, but not realizing that it might be part a God-given chemical reaction to our good deeds and thoughts — almost like God wants to bless us for being in the right mental space! This certainly challenges me to keep those right thoughts flowing especially when my circumstances would want to dictate otherwise! Thanks brother!

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