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Giving Thanks is Good for Your Health

In the United Sates, Thanksgiving Day is the holiday celebrated the fourth Thursday in November.  It became an official federal holiday in 1863.   In the early days, Thanksgiving Day was a celebration of the bountiful harvest and giving thanks for the reward of their labor in the fields.  Although as Americans gather today for Thanksgiving Day, things are considerably different as we feast, watching Thanksgiving Day parades and visiting with family, the tradition of coming around a table to give thanks remains a common thread.   Families openly share stories, memories and overall communicate their sincere gratitude for the loved ones they are surrounded by.  

Have you considered extending the tradition of giving thanks beyond Thanksgiving Day?   We take for granted that on Thanksgiving Day we give thanks not only to our family and friends, but for things such as health and wellbeing, our homes, jobs, church and the list goes on-and-on.  But what happens if we practiced being thankful throughout the entire year?

Did you realize that being in a routine of giving thanks actually provides health benefits?   Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, has been a leading researcher in this growing field termed “positive psychology.”  His research has found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude”, as a state of mind, experience many health benefits.  Emmons findings, along with other researchers suggest that people who take time to routinely to be thankful may be more likely to:

  • Take better care of themselves physically and mentally
  • Engage in more protective health behaviors
  • Get more exercise
  • Eat a healthier diet
  • Feel happier and more optimistic
  • Less stressed

Try it out — striving for better health through an “attitude of gratitude.”    Make this a part of your daily routine rather just on Thanksgiving Day.   Be intentional about pausing to give thanks each and every day.   Some find it helpful to journal.  It is like anything else you start new; it’s hard to fit it into our daily routine but, it won’t take more than five (5) minutes each day to make a few note in a journal.  The act of writing in a journal will cause to review what you really value in life.   Additionally, a journal will help you to reflect on how you experience gratitude each day. 

An “attitude of gratitude” is certainly not a cure-all but is a valuable tool that can be used for improving life satisfaction and happiness.