How Gratitude Reduces Depression

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.
 He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17 NLT)
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

In last week’s post, I shared something about my struggles with depression. I wish I could say that every time I became depressed, I recovered totally and instantly. With no effort on my part. It’s simply untrue. Sometimes, I hang out with ‘Friend’ depression for quite a while before I can shake her off.

Expressing gratitude is one of the actions I take to help me recover energy and joy. When I wake up, I may not feel thankful. I might feel more like complaining. Would it help me to complain? Am I being dishonest if I, instead, give thanks? It helps me to remember that gratitude is an attitude, not a feeling. It’s a choice I can make regardless of how I feel.

When I heard that the weather forecast for today, April 1, is snow, I did not feel happy. I wanted warm sunshine. I could have chosen to complain. Instead, I found the above photo of crocuses in my garden and focused on it. Each spring, these flowers work their way up through the wintry soil and dried leaves and delight my heart with brilliant color. I think it pleases my generous, gift-giving Father in heaven when, on a snowy spring day, I chose to smile and give thanks. When I do so, my heart begins to feel lighter.

Here’s the list of gratitude statements I’ve written so far, today. They are primarily simple things that can easily be overlooked.

  • Even though I walk slower and I can’t walk as far as I used to do, I still have the ability to walk.
  • My sharp and usually accurate sense of smell brings me joy. The aroma of peanut butter on toasted bread, which my husband prepared in the kitchen, whet my appetite for breakfast.
  • I had enough freshly ground coffee to make a cupful this morning. My 4-cup coffee maker worked perfectly, thanks to reliable electric power in my neighborhood.
  • The ability to make an easy-over egg without breaking the yoke made me feel happy. I’m thankful for the cooking skills I learned when younger.
  • I treasure my husband’s presence and feel deeply grateful for his desire and willingness to discuss a portion of Scripture and pray with me, again today. He values my insights. I value his.
  • In this eighth decade of life, my fingers are still flexible and I can move them quite rapidly over my computer keyboard, as well as my piano keys.
  • I can put up with the slight discomfort of support hose and will choose to be thankful for them today, knowing I need them.
  • My cataract surgery was successful, I need glasses only for reading, and I can pay for prescription eye drops for my dry eyes!
  • It’s been easy to think of the good in today and in writing these statements down, I feel encouraged.
  • How can my heart not feel grateful?

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