Thanksgiving and the Attitude of Gratitude

Image: Cecil Vedemil With Thanksgiving right around the corner (for us Canadians, anyway), it's easy to get swept away in planning a big meal and organizing friends & family visit.

This is a great time of year, however, to take a moment out from the hustle & bustle and reflect on what your thankful for.

I wrote about gratitude in my book, Stress and the Disease Connection, and it always comes back to me at this time of year - gratitude isn't just a nice practice, it's actually shown to have incredible health benefits!

Below you'll find the excerpt. Try to take it to heart this weekend, and have a happy, grateful Thanksgiving!


The Attitude of Gratitude

New research conducted by Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami shows that the "attitude of gratitude" has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life, and kinder behaviour towards others.

In the study, people kept a brief "gratitude journal" - just one sentence for each of the five things that they were grateful for done only once a week. After only two months there were significant effects. Compared with a control group, the people keeping the gratitude journal were more optimistic and felt happier. They reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out.

Further benefits were observed in a study of polio survivors and other people with neuromuscular problems. The ones who kept a gratitude journal reported feeling happier and more optimistic than those in a control group. The grateful people also fell asleep more quickly at night, slept longer, and woke feeling more refreshed.

"If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep," Dr. Emmons advises in Thanks!, his book on gratitude research.

Whether we assess the matter by means of scientific exploration of biochemistry or by electromagnetic energy fields, the message remains the same: persistent harmful or unbalanced patterns in thoughts, actions, attitudes, stress and stressors all cause physical, emotional and mental illness.