Benefits of Gratitude: What Oprah Winfrey and Ellen White Say

How grateful are you for your life? When you learn the benefits of gratitude, you’d understand the power of your mindset.

Life experiences come in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Today, the sun is shining and the weather is awesome. Tomorrow, the clouds are heavy, and you don’t feel like getting out of bed.

I understand what this feels like. So, I’ve decided to figure out the importance of gratitude and live a lifestyle of appreciation.

Image expressing gratitude
Pexels

You’re probably wondering:

“Why Oprah Winfrey and Ellen G. White?”

These are two of the most influential women who are helping me find my voice and develop my identity as a woman and a Christian. In some of the books by Ellen G. White, I’ve found that it pays to be thankful than sober and sad.

Also, in some great videos and quotes by Oprah Winfrey, one of the most influential women in the world according to some assessments, I’ve learned the essence of concentrating on what I have rather than what I lack.

So without much ado, let’s get started. In this post, I take you through the benefits of gratitude as expressed in EGW writings and Oprah Winfrey’s videos.

And don’t forget to watch “A Wrinkle in Time,” a 2018 Walt Disney movie where Oprah landed a role as Mrs. Which. I saw this movie last week on my PC and I was inspired by her energy.

Mrs. Which was a really big inspiration to Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin – three young kids who believed that Meg’s father, Mr. Murry, was going to return to earth after four years of “sudden disappearance”.

As I watched Mrs. Which help Meg overcome her fears, negativity, and doubt, I remembered how Oprah Winfrey gave many of her talks before fresh college graduates. Her motivation always resonates!

My Two Latest Reasons to Express Gratitude

In the last two weeks, I’ve had two insignificant but “expensive” accidents. Ideally, they should have been worse, considering the nature of such accidents.

So the first one – It happened last week while I was making breakfast for hubby and me. We had just been teasing each other about a Facebook video we watched.

I returned to the kitchen to serve our food and wasn’t aware that my grip on the food tray wasn’t firm enough.

What happened?

The delicious and still steaming hot spaghetti rushed out of the white ceramic dish and collapsed heavily on my thighs.

My thighs? Yes! I was still in my nightclothes; so, the tiny shorts didn’t do much to protect me.

My heart-wrenching scream sent my husband rushing in. After I had splashed lukewarm water on the affected areas, he applied honey, and I began to feel well again.

We cleaned up the mess afterward, even though he had preferred that I rest instead.

At that moment, all I wanted to do was salvage what was left of my diligently prepared meal.

And I did. We did!

Why did I tell you this story?

I could have chosen to cry and feel bad. Or exaggerate the pain and wonder endlessly how the heat could have ruined my beautiful dark skin.

The second event – Just two days ago, while I was cleaning our living room and preparing for bedtime, hubby’s laptop accidentally slipped from my hand and fell on my left leg, the big toe actually. (And it was no small fall!)

I struggled hard to hold the tears back but the pain was severe. My husband immediately had to take care of it with hot water and an essential oil.

Both experiences caused me pain. But guess what? I chose to be grateful instead. It could have been worse.

The Power of Gratitude: Just Say “Thank You”

You know, we sometimes don’t get the real meaning of gratitude.

We think it is merely being appreciative of the good things that happen to us.

No! Allow me to disagree.

Gratitude goes beyond being thankful for only the good things.

It entails being grateful for the good as well as bad things. In essence, gratitude means looking at your situation (exciting or depressing) and saying “it could have been worse but I choose to be grateful.”

When we appreciate the right things without forgetting the role that the wrong things play, we allow ourselves to be real. And believe me; it’s not easy to cultivate gratitude if you don’t widen your perspective of appreciation and thanksgiving.

Without doubt, nothing can be more heartbreaking than worsening a situation that’s already terrible. Why focus on the bad stuff when you can expel your energy on positive thoughts?

Let’s try to illustrate this:

Imagine you have a family or friend in coma. And all you really want is to have that person come back to life.

Which of these would you do?

  • Cry that he or she is dying
  • Or spend your time by their bedside telling them all the beautiful things you can’t wait for them to experience when they return?

Stay with me here.

I’m not saying you should get all magical about life.

Instead, I’m asking you to look on the bright side. What if your tears and negative thoughts actually had the power to speed up their death?

What if your excitement and optimism had the power to restore them to life?

As far as life goes, being grateful is more than just a choice. Expressing gratitude is a lifestyle you need to adopt.

What Oprah Winfrey Has Taught Me About Gratitude

I recently watched some Oprah motivational videos on gratitude. And I was happy to know that the benefits of gratitude are innumerable.

In Oprah’s words, if you “concentrate on what you have, you will end up having more. But if you focus on what you don’t have, you will never ever ever have enough!”

So, here’s the point, our minds shape our realities. I have said this in some of my previous posts. What you tell your mind is what it’s going to create and recreate back to you.

Again, Oprah Winfrey gave a talk to Stanford University students which she titled “Thank You.” And she spent several minutes asking them to visualize what they were grateful for, and just say “thank you.”

Now, we easily say “thank you” to people who make us smile, right? Tell me, would you be willing to appreciate someone for bashing your car, or example?

I know one thing, for certain, about places like Lagos. If your car were hit or another driver made a careless move that could have caused a collision, the average driver would yell out curses and insults.

Who says “thank you” in such situations? Nobody I know!

So, here’s the thing:

To paraphrase another gratitude quote by Oprah in this video, I’d say “you need to feel gratitude now. When you do, the spiritual aspect of your life will open up and you will grow in the process.”

Keeping a Gratitude Journal

In my experience as a ghostwriter for international businesses, I’ve learned that there are different types of journal. And one of them which apply to this topic is the gratitude journal.

I’ve been keeping a gratitude journal for almost two years now. And that’s besides my prayer and New Year journal, bullet journal (for ideas), new age journal, writing strategy & blog journals, and my budget journal.

Feels like a lot? Well, don’t forget I’m passionate about writing. So, I could never get tired of journaling.

This is what my gratitude journal looks like.

My Personal Gratitude Journal
My Gratitude Journal

Let me read you some of the entries from a day in February 2019.

  • Thank you Father for the small downpour
  • Thank you for helping me get to work despite the inertia
  • Thank you for the good review and new order
  • Thank you for the personal biography I was able to write today
  • Thank you for the safe trip to Ado tomorrow
  • Thank you for my younger sister’s trip

Those were written just as I have them in the journal, except for the omission of names. For me, this is a major way to practice gratitude because you immerse yourself in a process where you forget about pain, difficulty, and impossibilities.

My Personal Gratitude Journal
First Page of My 2019 Gratitude Journal

It is a way to look at life with a new pair of lens and say, “It could have been worse; so, I choose to be grateful.”

When I had the accident on Monday, I could barely focus on what was right about it. All I could think about was how I was going to sleep that night and how I would walk with a limp for the rest of the week.

But what happened instead? I did sleep easy that night. And yesterday, I hid the limp so well that I practically forgot about the pain.    

Benefits of a Gratitude Journal

Keeping a gratitude journal allows you to:

  1. Count your blessings one by one
  2. Pay attention to the good things happening in your life or around you
  3. Celebrate the small victories you achieve on a daily basis
  4. Assess your progress toward your big goals
  5. Connect to the divine source that keeps you alive
  6. Anticipate the future with a heart of thanksgiving
  7. Find relief from stress
  8. Look at the disappointments in your day as a part of your story
  9. Consider the things you still need to work on
  10. And simply say “thank you” because it’s the most important prayer.

According to Oprah Winfrey in this gratitude video, “thank you” is the only needed prayer.

Have you ever caught yourself writing a list of things you need? I do it often.

Even yesterday, I wrote in my ideas journal about wanting to treat myself to smoothie, spiced chicken, and salad.

For a moment there, I focused on those things. But then, I quickly reminded myself that I should be grateful for the apples in our refrigerator and the other great things in our home. And still expect the treat, of course!

So, that’s it. When you keep a gratitude journal, you document your day from a perspective of appreciation, admiration, and attention to details.

Oprah’s First Gratitude Journal

Oprah Winfrey began to journal in 1997. On the Soul Food Program on OWN, Oprah read aloud some entries from her journal, and went ahead to listen to members of the audience share something they were grateful for.

She used a physical journal for about 16 years before she got really busy and had to switch to electronic journaling.

You’ll begin to experience the power of gratitude when you integrate journaling in your own life. And my word isn’t enough. Try it yourself!

The Science of Gratitude: 5 Benefits You Might Already Know

Now, you understand that gratitude has a spiritual dimension to it. But it doesn’t stop there.

Science also has an explanation for the role gratitude plays in our lives. According to some studies in this Forbes article, gratitude activates dopamine and serotonin, two happiness hormones.

These neuro-transmitters provide the same feeling that people often get from drugs, alcohol, and other addictions.

If being merely grateful can stimulate happiness in your brain, what more could you need?

Again, similar research shows that other benefits of gratitude include:

  • Maintaining a low blood pressure
  • Experiencing increased energy
  • Being more creative
  • Expressing a higher level of self-respect
  • Showing the willingness to help others
  • Experiencing improved sleep quality and quantity
  • And lots more!

So, here’s the reality we cannot deny:

Gratitude costs nothing. It doesn’t have a price tag. All you need to do is look away from the bad and set your eyes on the good. How can you do this?

It may sound ridiculous if you’re currently in a tough place in your life and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Wait a sec.

How do you tell a man who just lost his job to be grateful?

How do you tell a woman whose baby had to be evacuated dead from her womb to be grateful?

What words would you use to describe the benefits of gratitude to someone who has no shelter or food?

Would gratitude even matter to a young girl who has been raped and abused by someone who was supposed to protect her?

How do you explain the need to be grateful to a civil servant who spends most of their time being used rather than acknowledged and promoted?

I might never know how they feel.

Celeste Headlee said on her TEDTalk (which I watched yesterday) that it doesn’t seem right to try to equate our experiences with what others have had. “All experiences are different.” Yes!

So, you’re right. It seems impossible and overwhelming.

How to Practice Gratitude When it doesn’t Make Sense

How do you try to develop an attitude of gratitude? How do you learn to count misfortunes and mishaps as blessings in disguise?

In the following lines, I’d take you through some of Oprah’s gratitude quotes and inspiration from EGW writings.

Oprah said on CNBC, “I know for sure that appreciating whatever shows up for you in life changes your personal vibration. You radiate and generate more goodness for yourself when you’re aware of all you have and not focusing on your have-nots.”

Ellen G. White says the following in some of her writings:

  • The Ministry of Healing, p. 253 – Forgetting our own difficulties and troubles, let us praise God for an opportunity to live for the glory of His name. Let the fresh blessings of the new day awaken praise in our hearts for these tokens of His loving care. When you open your eyes in the morning, thank God that He kept you through the night. Thank Him for His peace in your heart. Morning, noon, and night, let gratitude as a sweet perfume ascend to heaven.
  • Desire of Ages, p. 564 – The desire that Mary had to do this service for the Lord was of more value to Christ than all the precious ointment in the world, because it expressed her appreciation of the world’s Redeemer…It was the outward demonstration of a love fed by heavenly streams until it overflowed.  

Additional Resources on the Benefits of Gratitude

We could go on and on talking about the importance of gratitude and why you need a thankful outlook to life.

If you need more inspiration, watch these amazing gratitude videos from TEDTalks and YouTube.

Additionally, you can read these best books on gratitude. One of my best picks is Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy.

In this 239-page book which was published nearly ten years ago, the author dwells on a person’s need to be intentional about choosing to be grateful. When you fail to be grateful, Nancy says that you automatically choose ingratitude, and the emotions attached to ingratitude would follow.

So, what do you choose?

Final Thoughts on Being Grateful

What are you grateful for today?

Today, I am grateful for:

  • The opportunity to write this tenth post on my Ellen G. White Books site
  • The quick recovery of my left big toe
  • The safe trip God always grants my family members
  • My hubby’s dedication to his work and our lives together
  • The relationship I share with the readers of my blog
  • The favors I received yesterday when I took on a new path

And so much more!

These are some of the points in my gratitude journal today. You can choose to write three things, five things or at least ten things you’re thankful for.

I have days when I write less than five and other days when I write as many as fifteen.

So, would you love to start experiencing these numerous benefits of gratitude?

Decide this minute to celebrate your little successes, focus on what you have and not what you lack, and appreciate others for the things they are to you and the things they do for you.

You can equally choose to smile more often and express kindness on a daily basis. And if you decide to start keeping a gratitude journal, I’d be glad to tell you more about how this works.

Did you find this post interesting? Please like it, share it, leave your comments and follow my blog for more interesting posts.

In my next post, I’d be sharing 12 best books that have changed my life and can help you too.

Till you read from me again,

Be grateful!

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