According to Dr. Andrew Weil, the charismatic and holistic practitioner who I follow almost religiously, gratitude is good for our health. He sites several studies that say that thankfulness and the resulting social connectiveness bring about and help maintain good health, longevity and even prolonged survival for patients with very serious diseases.
The recent Wall Street Journal article, Thank You, No Thank You , discusses the growing body of research that suggests that habitually grateful adults:
…have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not… They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.
As if that’s not enough to make you stop and write somebody a thank-you note, further research shows, according to WSJ.com, that these benefits apply to teens and children, too. Hmmm. I find it particulary interesting that studies on teens show that those who are more grateful in action and sentiment enjoy a whole laundry list of benefits. They are less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don’t.
All of that from a simple “yes, please, and thank”?
Well, yes and no. Gratitude is not just a practice. It is a state of mind, a way of looking at the world with a recognition of what is right and good and meaningful in our lives right now, instead of what is wrong, and bad and fleeting. Gratitude is a decision to travel down the glass-is-half-full road, and it is a commitment to take our loved ones with us. Dr. Weil points out that gratitude is related to social connectedness. And being socially connected makes and keeps us healthy, too. People with strong ties to family and friends
have stronger immune systems, less depression and healthier hearts. Even devotion to pets give us a more positive outlook and even helps us recover from illness faster and better.
So if you have young ones and you find yourself repeating 50 times a day, “say ‘thank you’, say ‘thank you'”
or if you have melodramatic teens who you are constantly reminding that their lives are not ruined by one mistake or one mortifying embarrassment, remember that you are not only putting in the parenting time so that you save face later. You are putting in the gut work in order to save your child’s (and your own) health and well-being now and down the road. Gratitude is taught. (Click HERE for ten ways to teach it.)
In this season of Thanksgiving, let the celebration be the beginning of a new commitment to be grateful not just today, but all year long! Just think, if everyone did this, our health insurance costs might go down. Then we’d be REALLY grateful..and that would make us get that much healthier…and who knows what might happen from there!
Happy Holidays…and thank you for stopping by!