By Pastor Royston Smith
A recent article published by the American Psychosomatic Society stated that COVID-19 lockdown has had a negative impact on the mental health of the British public. In fact, a large percentage of the workforce has experienced depressive or anxiety related thoughts. Often, people with mild depression think they are just feeling sad, and that it will go away with time. However, leaving depression untreated can lead to many other difficulties in one’s personal, professional and spiritual life.
Depression creates fear whilst enclosing you into a negative world. It produces feelings of hopelessness or helplessness and prints murky pictures of our environments in our minds. This emotional imprisonment prevents you from seeing and appreciating the beauty and wonder around you. Those scarred by and struggling with depression will find it difficult to express gratitude, even though its medicinal properties to lift a broken spirit, lift dark clouds and lighten a path are well known.
2 Samuels 22:29 reads, “For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness.” Even though gratitude, a God- given trait is not a magic lamp for depression, developing an attitude of gratitude can certainly have a positive effect on mind, body and spirit. How does expressing gratitude change your emotions? Clinical Psychologist Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury wrote, “When we express gratitude and receive the same, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin, the two crucial neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions, and they make us feel good.” So, people who intentionally counting their blessings tend to feel better, happier and less depressed.
What does the Bible say about gratitude?
Philippians 4:6-7; “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Amidst the doom and gloom of a pandemic, job insecurities and general uncertainties we still have so many things for which to be thankful. Each day God provides you with fresh air, new opportunities and the ability to hope for and develop a new and better you. Sadly, some people only express gratitude on special days or having received some special gift. So, why not do it daily, thankfulness is an all-year-round activity.
When we learn to appreciate the positive things around us it helps to dilute the negative thoughts; thus, allowing us to see a clear path to happiness.
Here are four simple suggestions to help you develop and practice a life of gratitude:
- Today, start a gratitude journal and write down things you are thankful for
- Write a thank you note to someone who has impacted your life positively
- Volunteer for a charity and help those who need it most
- Sing a silly song or recount three funny incidents that happened to you during the past week.
What if you stop taking life and all the good things it offers for granted? Instead, intentionally develop a life of thankfulness or gratitude and reap the inevitable benefits. An anonymous writer noted, “a grateful heart is a magnet for a miracle.” As Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
Father God, you have done so much for us, help us to be truly thankful.