COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
By Steve Bietz
Willie Nelson is one of the most iconic singer-songwriters of all time. He has been nominated for 56 Grammys, winning 10. He has made 98 studio albums and 14 live albums while collaborating on a couple dozen more. He is 90 years old and has led a life of highs and lows. Something that he said about his life has stuck with me. Nelson said, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
The practice of “counting your blessings” is backed up by the scriptures. In Psalm 18: 1 we read, “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
And the practice of counting your blessings is backed up by science, which makes sense since it is God who is in charge of science. Counting your blessings can help you improve your well-being, performance, sleep, relationships, blood pressure, and stress levels. When we count our blessings, we take time to appreciate the good that we have experienced, are experiencing now, and will experience in the future.
Unfortunately, scientists tell us that we seem to have a “negativity bias” that causes our brains to prioritize, seek out, and lock on to negative information in the world like a heat-seeking missile. I’ve noticed that negative emotions seem to hang around longer than positive emotions. At times when I get home at the end of the day, I’m more likely to mull over the one negative comment someone made about my work and ignore the many positive comments I received from others. Why do our brains do that? I suspect that negativity bias is helpful in many ways, but the key to maintaining good mental health is to find balance. So, what can we do? Make it a regular practice to count your blessings.
One way we can fight negativity bias is to work each day to find good in people, places, and life events. When I think back, I can see that many of the biggest blessings in life come through little moments. It’s easy to let those little moments pass by in a blur if you don’t count your blessings.
One thing I try to avoid is taking things for granted. Maybe it’s the time you get to spend with your kids, spouse, or friends. Perhaps it’s your health or good weather. Maybe it’s the technology that you have that allows you to connect with others far away.
My wife and I live in a two-story home that has a separate heat and air system for each floor. The unit for downstairs went out last week and we will need to pay to have it replaced. I would consider this a very negative event. But my wife and I looked at the temperatures on the 10-day forecast for our hometown and saw that we are going to be in a warm trend for the end of October. Praise God that we would have probably not even needed much heat with the temperatures each day reaching into the 70s!
I want to make gratitude a priority in my life. I have seen how practicing gratitude enhances my spiritual fitness, mental health, and performance. I think the psalmist was on to something. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” So, go ahead and count your blessings! Like Willie Nelson, you may see that counting your blessings can turn your life around.
Blue Ridge Christian News covers Burke County, McDowell County, Mitchell County, Yancey County, Madison County, in North Carolina, and Christian news from around the country.