Thankfulness and Your Health

It seems like each day presents us with challenges and stresses that can prevent us from looking at the day from a perspective of joy and thankfulness.  How many of us had a great day at work only to arrive home with a child having a melt down over homework?  Then we end the day focusing on the recent stress, as opposed to all of the great things that happened throughout the day.

What if we changed our perspective to one of thanks?  Instead of thinking, “I wish my daughter wouldn’t have a melt down every time she has a homework challenge”, we could reframe with “I’m so glad that my daughter is in a school that gives her challenging homework – now what can I do to get her through this”?   It’s a slight change in perspective, but it can make all of the difference.  Once you start thinking from this perspective with all of life’s challenges, it can help you nurture your “thankfulness” perspective. 

I’d also encourage you to start each and every day with a list of “thanks”.  For example, I start my day with thanks for having a career in which I work with talented, engaged, and hardworking folks, including the Any Lab Test Now franchisees who get up each day making a difference in the world.   And the list just goes on from there…a great family, loving friends, my health…..with this perspective it changes my view of the stresses and challenges that we all face each day.  

According to Robert A. Emmons, and Michael E. McCullough, giving thanks is also good for your health, as noted in the following “Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness”.

*In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

*A related benefit was observed in the realm of personal goal attainment:  Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.

 * A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy compared to a focus on hassles or a downward social comparison (ways in which participants thought they were better off than others).  There was no difference in levels of unpleasant emotions reported in the three groups.

 * Participants in the daily gratitude condition were more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or having offered emotional support to another, relative to the hassles or social comparison condition.

* In a sample of adults with neuromuscular disease, a 21-day gratitude intervention resulted in greater amounts of high energy positive moods, a greater sense of feeling connected to others, more optimistic ratings of one’s life, and better sleep duration and sleep quality, relative to a control group.

* Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families (Froh, Sefick, & Emmons, 2008).

So as we approach Thanksgiving, let’s practice giving thanks each and every day.  It’s good for our health!!!!

 Clarissa Bradstock

About Bradstock and Bradstock

Roald and Clarissa Bradstock are happily married and raising four daughters. Roald is a well renowned artist, Olympian, who holds the Javelin Masters Record. Clarissa is a successful executive with Any Lab Test Now. Together they will share their thoughts on wellness, aging, careers and balancing work and family.
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