Recent scientific and sociological studies note the importance of gratitude as a key ingredient in healthy and happy living.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word, gratia, meaning grace and thankfulness.  Current medical and scientific research consistently associates gratitude with greater happiness, which also facilities better physical and mental health.  According to a note from Harvard Medical School, “[g]ratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships.” [1]

In the United States, one need not search far to find information on gratitude as the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are rooted in gratitude.  Unfortunately, many of us embrace this doctrine during the holiday season and then revert to old habits of constant states of dissatisfaction, inconsideration, greed, etc., once the holiday season ends.  To that end, our society has created a world that is a ball of confusion, a perpetual state of unhappiness fueled by toxic interpersonal relationships, ill health and a compromised climate.  As we all search for a solution for the many bad things going on in the world today, maybe if we focus on the true meaning of gratitude, and thankfulness, we can break the cycle that we currently are in, running uncontrollably in circles like hamsters on a wheel, never really making any progress.

Blackboard with the text: Today Im Thankful For... in a christmas conceptual image

Scientific Benefits of Gratitude

Generally, we are hard wired and require proof that any course of action is authentic.  As such, current scientific studies specifically note positive benefits of showing gratitude (although we really should not need a reason to be grateful as it should be assumed to be the right thing to do).

  1.  People who are grateful generally are more hopeful and healthier.
  2. People who express gratitude generally have better quality and duration of sleep than those who do not show thanks.
  3. People who are thankful have increased self esteem than those who do not show thanks.
  4. People who show gratitude also have greater empathy towards others and are more likely than those who do not show gratitude to be pro-social.
  5. People who show gratitude and who list in journals the things for which they are grateful have greater resilience to problems that may arise.

Gratitude Is Heart Healthy

Another very important reason to show gratitude is that it is particularly good for the heart. [2]  The correlation between the effects of depression, stress and anxiety and the increased risk of heart disease have been well documented, just as the positive effect of a good mental status as beneficial to heart health has been touted.  It is no secret that grateful people are healthier than ungrateful individuals, with fewer cases of inflammation in the body and buildup of damaging plaque.  To that end, being grateful has a big payout.

Diagram of health

Teach The Children Well

The lesson of gratitude is great for children and serves to build stronger families and independent thinkers.  In this age of preoccupation with physical things, and the ensuing deleterious impact on the environment in terms of trash and financial woes from overspending, gratitude for the sufficiency of what one has helps to raise children to be confident responsible adults.

Practice Mindfulness

The practice of showing gratitude hones the skill of mindfulness, which requires each of us to plan our lives very carefully rather than functioning on automatic.  When we plan our activities, our budgets our schedules, etc., we save time and make better choices.  We become aware of the potential pitfalls in life and avoid them to the extent possible.

Everyday Is A Day Of Thanksgiving

As we gather with family and friends to express gratitude for our lives, our happiness and health, it is important that we commit to make everyday a day of gratitude, giving thanks for our world, our love ones and our creator.  This then becomes the starting point for a movement to create a healthier happier world for us all.  To do so is to live green, be green.

Happy Thanksgiving Greeting, Fall Leaves Background and text Happy Thanksgiving

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[1]  http://www.newsweek.com/5-scientifically-proven-benefits-gratitude-398582#big-shots/undefined/0
[2]  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/23/456656055/gratitude-is-good-for-the-soul-and-it-helps-the-heart-too

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