November 23, 2015

This is Thanksgiving week, and there are so many things to be thankful for. In fact, having a gratitude attitude is healthy. Happy people are said to live 10 years longer than unhappy people, and optimists have a 77% lower risk of heart disease than pessimists.

HappinessAccording to Sonja Lyubomirsky in the “How of Happiness”, 50% of our propensity for happiness is based on genetics, 10% on life circumstances, and 40% on intentional activity in influencing our own behavior. This means that we have the ability to be happier than what we are.

Being ThankfulResearch has shown that consistently grateful people are happier, more energetic, hopeful, helpful, empathetic, spiritual, forgiving and less materialistic. They are also less likely to become depressed, anxious, lonely, envious, neurotic, or sick.

The EvidenceIn a study, one group had to name five things they were grateful for every day, while another group was asked to list five hassles. Those expressing gratitude were not only happier and more optimistic, they reported fewer physical symptoms (such as headache, cough, nausea, or acne). Other studies showed that when regular gratitude was practiced, those with chronic illnesses demonstrated clinical improvement. Good results were likewise attained by severely depressed people expressing gratitude. For more surprising scientific proof read the book, “Mind Over Medicine” by Lissa Rankin.

Gratitude Increases Happiness

According to Dr. Lyubomirsky, gratitude:

  • Promotes savoring of positive life experiences;
  • Bolsters self-worth and self-esteem;
  • Helps people cope with stress and trauma;
  • Encourages caring acts and moral behavior;
  • Helps build social bonds and strengthens relationships;
  • Inhibits harmful comparisons;
  • Diminishes or deters negative feelings such as anger, bitterness, and greed.

Gratitude in Action

Here are some things you could do to help develop the gratitude attitude.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Once a week write in your journal things you are thankful for that week.
  • Cultivate a “Gratitude Attitude”. Work on being thankful for things that happen each day and expressing it.
  • Set aside a certain time. We all are busy, so set aside a time to express thanks at least once a week. You can do this as a family or on your own.
  • Get a Gratitude Partner. Find a friend or family member and as partners, keep each other accountable to express gratitude at least once a week.
  • Make Sunday a Thanksgiving Day. Make time before dinner to express thanks every week instead on only once a year!

Our family has been “Praising the Lord”, and giving thanks every Monday night when we have a prayer time. We all go around and say what we are thankful for that week. It is fun to listen to what our children have to give thanks for and helps us all develop a sense of gratitude.

We’re here to help you!Amy Willis, Your Local Herbalist