Feelings of gratefulness have many benefits

There are benefits of acknowledging the good in your life.

Recently several friends on a social media site were given the challenge to name what in their lives made them grateful. The responses centered on family, nature, co-workers, good health and a new pet. Evoking thoughts of gratefulness is good for us; it actually has benefits to our health and wellbeing.

Call it what you will, whether that be gratitude, thankfulness or appreciation, research conducted by Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis found that those who regularly acknowledge what they appreciate in their lives are more likely to make the following choices:  

  • Are proactive in how they take care of their physical and mental health
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Choose healthy foods to eat
  • Make and keep yearly examinations with health care providers
  • Have developed positive coping methods for stress
  • Have a sense of happiness and optimism 

These are some great benefits and all we have to do is make a choice. Choose to be grateful and create a list to be added to and visited on a regular basis. Think easy and simple. Use a journal, jar, your computer or a sheet of school paper. Not feeling especially grateful today? Your attitude is key. It’s not always easy to tally positive feelings while coping with real life. Choose a positive attitude about yourself first and let it spread to those around you. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to begin.

My menu each November includes a moment to express our gratitude for what we have. It isn’t looked forward to as much as the pumpkin pie, but everyone takes a turn and our feelings of gratefulness are passed around the table much like the platter of turkey. Michigan State University Extension can direct you to many programs and articles related to family and healthy living.

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