Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanks-no-complaining!

In Sunday’s message I talked about how to have gratitude even the craziest of life’s circumstances.  If you missed it, you can view the video here, or the podcast here.

In Sunday’s New York Times there was an article linking gratitude and happiness. There are scientific studies that report gratitude being good for our level of happiness.

Evidence suggests that when we actively practice gratitude, we experience higher levels of happiness.

“This is not just self-improvement hokum. For example, researchers in one 2003 studyrandomly assigned one group of study participants to keep a short weekly list of the things they were grateful for, while other groups listed hassles or neutral events. Ten weeks later, the first group enjoyed significantly greater life satisfaction than the others. Other studies have shown the same pattern and lead to the same conclusion. If you want a truly happy holiday, choose to keep the “thanks” in Thanksgiving, whether you feel like it or not.

How does all this work? One explanation is that acting happy, regardless of feelings, coaxes one’s brain into processing positive emotions. In one famous 1993 experiment, researchers asked human subjects to smile forcibly for 20 seconds while tensing facial muscles, notably the muscles around the eyes called the orbicularis oculi (which create “crow’s feet”). They found that this action stimulated brain activity associated with positive emotions.

If grinning for an uncomfortably long time like a scary lunatic isn’t your cup of tea, try expressing gratitude instead.According to research published in the journal Cerebral Cortex, gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure).

It’s science, but also common sense: Choosing to focus on good things makes you feel better than focusing on bad things. As my teenage kids would say, “Thank you, Captain Obvious.” In the slightly more elegant language of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus, “He is a man of sense who does not grieve for what he has not, but rejoices in what he has.”

complaintsHow?So today, and maybe even all days, try being thankful.

It’s the offering of “no complaints.”

If we complain, then we can’t be thankful.

If we don’t feel like being thankful, try smiling first . . . see where it leads.

Sunday afternoon two West families issued a challenge on Facebook,

Laurie Jasany

Thank you Andrea Fare Smith for your uplifting message this morning! We all need reminders to BE thankful and (not complain), and enjoy life’s riches!

The Jasanys have issued a family challenge for the week – no complaints. Yes, this includes today’s game and Black Friday shopping!

Who wants to join us?

Jennifer Hartman 

I’m game! Perhaps we should put our money where our mouth is. For each complaint we may utter we donate a dollar and give to missions via Gladys at the end of the week

What if we ALL . . . every time we complain this week, even this weekend with traffic, shopping, and sometimes interesting family dynamics, choose to be thankful rather than complain!?!?!

What a difference it would make!!!

Sunday I’ll send a link to PushPay and we can all make an offering to whatever “area” we choose. I am going to choose splitting my offering between Third Creek Backpack Mission and Acres of Hope Uganda. Ive had enough complaining this week (unfortunately – bad on my part) that I will have enough to split!

What about you?

Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Thanks-no-complaining!

Grace and Peace,

Luke 17:11-19The Message (MSG)

11-13 It happened that as he made his way toward Jerusalem, he crossed over the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten men, all lepers, met him. They kept their distance but raised their voices, calling out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”

14-16 Taking a good look at them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”

They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough-and he was a Samaritan.

17-19 Jesus said, “Were not ten healed? Where are the nine? Can none be found to come back and give glory to God except this outsider?” Then he said to him, “Get up. On your way. Your faith has healed and saved you.”