Hold on to your donkeys, elephants, porcupines, and stop to consider the Earthflowers. With Election Day on Tuesday, this week is sure to be an emotional one. The election has created an atmosphere of negativity and complaint that will continue if we do not do something about it. Come Wednesday morning, some Americans will be happy and celebrating and some will be angry and grieving. And regardless of who becomes President, I would like to suggest we all should be grateful.
Just like voting, we have a choice to choose gratitude over grumbling.
Did you know that grumbling is bad for your health? Complaining rewires your brain to expect more negativity forming a habit of negative thinking. Researcher, Professor Sapolsky at Stanford Medical School found exposure to just thirty minutes of complaining and negativity per day (including viewing this on TV) can cause physical damage to your brain.1 Indulging in negative emotions can weaken one’s immune system and triggers physical symptoms such as anxiety, increased blood pressure, and trouble sleeping. 2 Negativity attracts and breeds negativity.
On the other hand, gratitude makes your brain and body healthier. It changes our perspective, helping us to see beyond self-pity and self-centeredness. With practice, our brain becomes wired to seek out the good and positives in any situation and help us to appreciate the people and situations around us (even in the most dire circumstances.) Practicing gratitude has been associated with many health benefits including improved kidney function, reduced blood-pressure and stress-hormone levels, and a stronger heart. “A grateful stance toward life is relatively immune to both fortune and misfortune,” says Robert Emmons, a pioneer of gratitude research. We see the blessings, not just the curses.3
For those of us who follow Christ, we are commanded to be thankful to God in all circumstances. Our heart and thoughts turned upward and outward in His love extended towards others through us.
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24(ESV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Philippians 2:14-15 (ESV)
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:15-17 (ESV)
You do not have to be happy with the election results. It is okay to be disappointed. In the days following the election, let’s all think before we speak. Expressing our dissatisfaction in respectful discussions that do not include stereotyping, assumptions, and accusations. Disagreeing in grace and in love. Allowing the words out of our mouths not to be ones of anger, wrath, malice, and slander (Colossians 3:8) but rather words used to build each other up (Ephesians 4:29.) Use the days to come as an opportunity to be an example to our children, our neighbors, friends, and our family members. Let our gratitude attract gratitude and let our words become actions that point others to the real Hope of these days. The hope of Jesus!
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
(3.) Kamps, L. (2016). What Gratitude Can Do For You. TIME Magazine: Mindfulness:The New Science of Health and Happiness, 54-57.