I know that this time of year can bring joy, excitement, sadness, anxiety, stress, and peace all within a day or week. When I read an article from David Thomas, author and counselor at Daystar Counseling in Nashville, yesterday, I was reminded of the way that gratitude can be a key factor in how a day, week, or season can go.
"The science behind gratitude - how gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus, a key part of the brain that regulates stress. Similarly, it triggers the "reward circuitry" that produces the sensation of pleasure. When we pull out a device and spend a minute or two looking through photos of people, places, and pets, it can temporarily interrupt anxiety and worry, despair and hopelessness, negative or intrusive thoughts."
From his advice, I took a moment yesterday afternoon to pull pictures from my phone into a gratitude folder. As I looked at the people, places and pets in them, it brought a sense of joy and peace to my demeanor. Paul's words in Colossians can help us be reminded of this as well.
"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving." (Colossians 2:6-8 The Message)
Advent is a time of preparing our hearts to receive God's gift to us in Jesus Christ. Pointing my heart towards gratitude is a daily challenge.