Count Your Blessings

One hymn I really love is “Count Your Blessings”. At my church, we typically sing it at Thanksgiving (for obvious reasons). It may not be a hymn we sing very often, but I love how the words communicate how much we really have to be thankful for:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done!

Count your blessings,

Name them one by one,

Count your blessings,

See what God had done!

Count your blessings,

Name them one by one!

Count your many blessings,

See what God has done!

Very practical advice; biblical, too! Psalm 100: 4-5 says,

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving,

and into his courts with praise:

be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting;

and his truth endureth to all generations.

As sinful people, we all have a tendency to dwell on what goes wrong. I know I do, at least. I sometimes find myself focused on one or two negative things so much that I ruin my whole day! I should do that more often with positive things. Wouldn’t it be nice to master an attitude of thankfulness, so that you can whether the most stressful day by focusing on just a few of the hundreds (if not thousands!) of blessings God has given you?

Practicing thankfulness has an incredible number of benefits! Here’s a list of just seven, from PsychologyToday.com:

  1. Opens the door to more relationships. Studies show that people are drawn to thankful people.
  2. Improves your physical health. Grateful people tend to take better care of their health, and report feeling better.
  3. Improves psychological health. Thankfulness reduces negative emotions like envy and frustration, increases happiness, and reduces depression.
  4. Enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
  5. Helps you sleep better.
  6. Improves your outlook on life.
  7. Increases mental strength.

Hopefully you look at that list and say, “Wow! I want all those things in my life!”. Me too! The problem is, how do we practice thankfulness on a consistent basis?

Practicing Thankfulness: A Simple Excercise

I was given a very practical method as a college student. During my time at college, I struggled intensely with anxiety and depression. Eventually I sought help from one of my professors, and he suggested a simple exercise: write down three things per day that I’m thankful for. That’s it. Just write down three things! I didn’t see how that would help me, but I took his advice; and you know what? It really helped me!

The simple act of writing down three things I was thankful for helped me to change my mental focus and see the benefits of thankfulness in a very real way! In fact, I still take time to do this exercise when I’m feeling frustrated or stressed. I should note that writing it down is important; get a notebook, or an app that you like, and actually write out the three things. There is something about writing that helps you get something off your mind in a very cathartic way. So, if you want an easy, simple way to practice thankfulness, get some pen and paper, and do like the song says: count your blessings!

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