The Healing Power of Gratitude

By Kristen Duke

Life is hard.

Everyone has a story that will break your heart.

It’s just not always so evident on the outside.

2020 has been especially hard for some people. You may know it because they’ve shared with you those specific trials. You may not. Even before President Nelson shared his message of hope through gratitude last Friday, I had most of this article written to share with all of you, it means even more to me now.

Why is gratitude so powerful? 

Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways.

Research finds that focusing on what we are grateful for is generally a rewarding way to feel happier and more fulfilled.

I think we often think of the basics (and we should!):

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Faith
  • Shelter
  • Job

But that’s just too broad, we can niche down and articulate micro categories within those 5, and be more specific. We can look around and notice the simple things that bring us joy (ice cream?) and strive to express WHY they bring joy, to feel that gratitude even deeper.

We become more hopeful, can find more happiness, but recognizing and expressing gratitude, therefore feeling that healing power. 

President Monson shared in the past this quote:

“Robert W. Woodruff, a prominent business leader of a former time, toured the United States giving a lecture which he entitled “A Capsule Course in Human Relations.” In his message, he said that the two most important words in the English language are these: “Thank you.”

Gracias, danke, merci—whatever language is spoken, “thank you” frequently expressed will cheer your spirit, broaden your friendships, and lift your lives to a higher pathway as you journey toward perfection. There is a simplicity—even a sincerity—when “thank you” is spoken.”

Science suggests that gratitude might help us cope with stress and trauma better.

“Gratitude is not about diminishing how difficult and unprecedented this pandemic is, or pretending you’re not anxious and that everything’s fine. Because things are not fine” says social psychologist Judy Moskowitz, Ph.D.

“As we look in depth, gratitude is something that can exist alongside the very real and understandable negative emotions that most of us are experiencing right now, not in place of them”, Moskowitz says. “In fact, gratitude may help us better weather and recover from these hard times.”

“Sometimes it’s hard in the midst of tremendous uncertainty and grief, anxiety and anger about what’s happening, to feel grateful, but gratitude can be healing. “ Robin Stern, Ph.D.

President Nelson, in his 96 years on earth has seen his fair share of grief, loss, and pain. Even him sharing more details about the heartache of losing his wife to a heart attack, and being able to do nothing, is enough grief to last a lifetime, yet he has HOPE! “Count your blessings before your recount your problems,” he said.

So if the prophet and science are both sharing about how gratitude can be healing, I’m on it! President Nelson encouraged us to share on social media our gratitude, and as someone who loves sharing goodness on social media, but rarely see’s shares from my friends, I’m SO excited about this! We can take this as an opportunity to not only heal through our own gratitude, but to look to others and learn more about them. By seeing what they are grateful for, we have the opportunity to reflect on our shared gratitude.  

I know many have a gratitude journal (I have one somewhere…) and we can also express that gratitude in prayer. 

Gratitude heals.

Let’s all heal together.

Kristen Duke grew up in Texas and Louisiana, and now raising her family in the mountains of Colorado. As a former early morning seminary teacher, she loves teenagers, and is striving to help parents feel more hopeful in raising teens on her instagram @KristenDukeChats. With two sons on/preparing for missions and two girls at home, she’s loving mothering the BIG KIDS.

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