Dr. Don Colbert – What is your most important Thanksgiving recipe? Your amazing turkey recipe? Your favorite mashed potatoes? The family’s secret-ingredient pumpkin pie?
How about a grateful heart? A content attitude? How about peace and joy for Thanksgiving, the Holiday Season, and into the next year? God’s given us a recipe for these as well.
In fact, you can start today with the most important Thanksgiving recipe. It can set your tone moving forward. This year, let’s focus on different ingredients. Ones that can change our lives.
The Most Important Thanksgiving Recipe
1 PART GRATITUDE
We’ve talked at length about ways to practice gratitude during the last few years. In fact, one of the best ways is to simply keep a gratitude journal to document things for which you’re grateful, big and small. You can write your gratitudes throughout the day, at the beginning of the day, or before bed. Thank God. Make this your lifestyle.
What’s more, you can bless others with your gratitude by writing a note to someone. Let them know why you’re grateful for them. This may spur a whole circle of gratitude around you. It’s a great first ingredient!
1 PART CONTENTMENT
Gratitude and thanksgiving are great, but what if we went beyond the blessings and truly learned to be content? Paul wrote: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12).
While you’re listing the things for which you are grateful, what if you continued the list with “I am content with” and listed the things in your life with which you are wrestling? The things that make you anxious. The things that are troubling.
What if, instead of glossing over the hard things, we listed those, lifted them in prayer to God, and determined to be content in our trust in Him? Of course, this does not mean we aren’t motivated to change bad situations. Paul was an incredibly motivated, active person. But perhaps listing the bad alongside the good and trusting God is the key to changing our hearts and our situations.
God never asked us to fake it and pretend everything is great. In fact, Jesus instructs us to give our anxieties to Him. We can acknowledge them. There’s power in this. In fact, Paul, after stating that he has learned to be content in everything, proclaimed: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13).
1 PART PEACE
Oftentimes, as we spend more time being grateful and becoming content, as we give our burdens to God, peace and joy follow.
Miraculously, this can happen even when our circumstances don’t change. Peace is a condition of our hearts, not our environment. God tells us how we can experience peace:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Within the most important Thanksgiving recipe, may you receive the amazing gift of peace.
1 PART JOY
What gets mixed in after we are grateful, content, and peaceful? How about joy? This last ingredient is the outward expression of all that God has done in our hearts. He can change us from anxious and negative to gracious, content, and peaceful. Even joyful!
As He does, let your joy burst forth.
What Can Gratitude, Contentment, Peace and Joy Do for Your Body?
Although our spiritual Thanksgiving Recipe is the most important, it affects our physical health as well. In fact, we see in research that gratitude and contentment, which bring forth peace and joy while reducing anxiety, improve our health. They encourage:
- Stronger mental health: Amazingly, you can decrease cortisol (the stress hormone) by up to 23% by practicing gratitude (1). What’s more, healthcare practitioners have sustained lower perceived stress (decrease of 28%) and depression by keeping a gratitude journal (2). Controlling cortisol is crucially important to overall health.
- Healthier Hearts: In studies, gratitude is associated with better cholesterol levels, lowered blood pressure and decreased heart rate variability. This all works together to improve cardiovascular health and overall health (3, 4).
- Ease with Change and Healthy Habits: Some benefits of gratitude work in reverse. Researchers have found that those who practice gratitude also tend to make healthier choices. Specifically, there’s an association between those who are reportedly grateful and less use of tobacco, more exercise, and better food choices (5, 6). On the flip side, gratitude intervention shows promise when helping patients increase healthy habits. In one study, 31% of participants quit smoking and maintained abstinence after 6 months, compared to meta-analysis averages of 23% with a nicotine patch alone (7).
- Stronger Immune Function: Gratitude and optimism can actually improve your body’s response to inflammation. Studies have found that our bodies produce more disease-fighting cells when we are grateful and optimistic (8). In addition, anytime you reduce cortisol, you maintain a healthier balance with DHEA levels. This supports healthy immune function (9).
- Better Sleep and Healthy Aging: One key factor to healthy aging is brain health. One necessity for brain health is sleep. Fortunately, gratitude supports better sleep (10)! In one study, gratitude was linked to a 10 percent improvement in sleep and a 19 percent decrease in depression levels in patients with insomnia (11).
What About Thanksgiving Food?
Of course, the food is great too. Let’s celebrate with some of our favorite Keto Zone Thanksgiving favorites:
Keto Zone Thanksgiving Menu:
This Thanksgiving, consider a new recipe with new habits (ingredients). Start with daily gratitude and add daily contentment. Give your thanksgivings and anxieties to God. Then, notice the peace in your heart. Finally, let your joy shine through. Let’s make this entire Holiday Season a springboard of God’s goodness into next year.
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