By definition, Eucharisteo (pronounced yoo-khar-is-teh’-o) means: to be grateful, feel thankful or to give thanks. In her book, One thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp dares her readers to “live fully, right where they are”. Voskamp believes this remarkable and practical guide to living a life of joy starts by embarking on a transformative spiritual discipline of chronicling gifts. Her very own journey started by listing 1000 gifts of her everyday life, which included homeschooling her 6 children and working on her family farm with her husband. The author pointed out that when she started to intentionally look for gifts she was awakened by God’s everyday blessings, which even included sticky floors, and a sink piled high with dishes. As I embark on my own journey to be authentically fulfilled, I invite you to take the challenge with me by writing down 1000+ gifts in 2018. Keeping a running log of a gratitude list can do this.
From a health perspective, the art of giving thanks has been well studied and documented. According to research at the Duke University Medical Center, people who actively express thankfulness can:
- Reduce systolic blood pressure
- Lower cortisol levels (elevated levels of cortisol depletes the immune system and raises blood sugar levels)
- Increase oxytocin levels (sometimes called the “love” hormone because it fosters calm and security in relationships).
- Improve neurotransmitter production
- Decrease systemic inflammation
- Boost impulse control
- Improve relationships with self and others
Moreover, a major side effect of gratitude is HAPPINESS! While this is not a comprehensive list of benefits, I hope it shows the importance of a thankful heart. Giving thanks is mentioned at least 140 times in the bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Paul writes “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
As we begin 2018, may we all discover a way of seeing that opens our eyes to gratitude and a way of becoming present to God’s presence that brings deep and lasting happiness? I wish you all a new year filled with abundant blessings!