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By KEITH ANDERSON
It’s good to give thanks. Initial research on the web reveals numerous articles pointing out the many and varied benefits of giving thanks. Things like, it lifts your spirits, it helps you sleep better, improves mental and physical health, opens doors to new relationships, to name a few. To the contrary, however, a recent study also suggests that humans are ‘wired’ to be more influenced by negative experiences than positive, that humans have an innate “negative bias.” Ever play a great game (pick a sport) while making one or two slip-ups? Guess what most people remember afterwards? That’s right, the mistakes.
Perhaps it’s for this reason that we celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving, to remind ourselves as a nation that it’s better to give thanks for the many blessings, the goodness of life, in contrast to that which we don’t have or that isn’t “right” in life.
In truth, giving thanks for one’s blessings is nothing new. There are any number of passages in the Bible that encourage or help us to give thanks. Psalm 136 is a Psalm of Thanksgiving written for a worship setting as evidenced by the repeating phrase: His steadfast love endures forever. The psalmist acknowledges God’s roll in all of creation and throughout the history of Israel, as a father who cares for his family. In the New Testament, Paul encourages his new converts to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Pretty simple when you stop and think about it. Giving thanks is accessible to everyone, and it really does make for a better community, a healthier person, a better world. I suppose one just needs to set one’s mind to the task if gratitude doesn’t come naturally. So here’s something to try as we approach the ‘giving season’ at the end of another year: For the next seven days, write a list every day of 10 things for which you’re thankful (while never repeating a prior item). Maybe you’ll want to post your lists on the refrigerator or on a bathroom mirror where you can see them daily?
I can almost guarantee that you’ll be a happier, more grateful person at the end of the week. And those around you will no doubt be blessed because of you. So let your light shine in the darkness.
The Rev. Keith Anderson is pastor of First Lutheran Church.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association