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Reduce Depression Through Gratitude

Colossians 3:16
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. NIV

Do you tend to have a mild, lingering depression during the day? One common Christian discipline can help reduce that depression if you dare to try it. It involves making a morning list of five things you are grateful for and sharing those in your prayers with God. Yes, gratitude helps to reduce depression. Numerous psychological studies have shown that gratitude can reduce depression and even reduce anxiety.

The gratitude technique is really simple but must be used daily to be effective. Early in the morning, write down five things you are grateful for. It could be a family relationship, a chance to go to school, a friend’s encouragement, or even something as simple as your favorite food. Two guidelines will help you be successful in expressing your gratitude list to God.

First, be specific. For example, just saying you are grateful for your mother is weak. Say something specific like, “I am grateful for my mother because she listens to me when I am upset.”

Second, don’t repeat items of gratitude for two weeks. List that you are grateful for your mom picking you up after school, and wait two weeks to repeat this item of gratitude. Listing something else about your mom you are grateful for is okay. If you have a great mom, you should be able to find at least 25 things you are grateful for about her.

Exception: you may have some great news or event that has happened to you that keeps you in a state of thanksgiving or gratitude. Go ahead and share this with God daily, just add five more items of gratitude to your daily list.

You may include your items of gratitude in your prayer time or separately just say, “Thank You God” after the list is completed.

For Christians, gratitude should be frequent, specific, and as we become more insightful, far-ranging. There are infinitely more things to be grateful for than you can imagine. Train yourself to see all of the many things in God’s world you could be grateful for. That is why you should wait two weeks before repeating an item of gratitude.

You may hear or read that thankfulness and gratitude are different things. Actually, in the Bible, there is very little distinction between the two. Thanksgiving may have a slightly more emotional feel to it to modern ears and gratitude may have a more cognitive, appreciative feel. On the other hand, even dictionaries don’t agree on a definition but do tend to see them as very similar.

The Bible uses thanksgiving in place of the word gratitude in most places, but that is just a translation issue. Gratitude is a form of thanksgiving and as such should be expressed to God.

Are you ready to fight the afternoon blues? Maybe a little gratitude will help. The Bible states that gratitude should be a daily part of your worship of God, and science says it will help reduce your depression as well. A double blessing.

Do you want/need a gratitude journal? Any notebook will do. If you want something more structured, check out one of the two journals following. If you are a woman click here and check this out. If you are a man, click here. Both only have space for three items of gratitude, which is too few. Try to write five if you can.



Some gratitude research.

Psychiatric Medical Care:

The Association between Gratitude and Depression: A Meta-Analysis


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