First published on: 2nd October 2019

I love it when modern psychology and the scriptures coincide so clearly! We shouldnt be surprised, but too often we can separate them and sever connection. Pauls letters are full of gratitude, no more so than in Philippians, where the tone is one of thanksgiving in, and despite, the circumstances. Even from the prison Paul finds things to give thanks for. David, too, and other psalmists and wisdom writers, focus their minds on aspects for which they can be grateful in the midst of struggles.

The creation of a gratitude journal has been widely encouraged to support and enhance good mental wellbeing. The calling to mind of positive aspects within each day that brings hope is a great practice: Writing them down to produce a record and a reminder which builds up is even better. There are similarities to the ancient spiritual practice of the examen, noticing and experiencing at the end of the day.It does not deny the hardships and challenges of life, but choosing mindfully to appreciate what has been good in each day is a great practice. For myself the discipline exercised over a five-year period now of finding three things to be grateful for each day has been transformative, and seen me through many challenging times and life experiences.

Any new practice takes time to master, but starting simply with mindfully noticing some positives in each day and writing one bullet point. Perhaps it was a meal that tasted good, the colours of the sky or created world, a moment of pleasure in a friendship or relationship, or a task achieved that brought satisfaction.Nothing is out of bounds! Over time this builds into a record of the goodness of God day by day which strengthens our hearts and our faith, whatever other challenges we may face. Contemporary research into the value of written (or even online social media posting) gratitude is clear about the benefits in terms of wellbeing. Why not start today?

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