“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open heart.”
- Sarah Ban Breathnach
It’s funny how we compartmentalize our lives. We have days for doing laundry, days for running errands, days we go to the gym. And, we even have one day scheduled each year to be grateful. What happens the other 364 days? Are we ungrateful? Or, do we just not pay attention?
It turns out that being grateful….expressing and feeling gratitude…is good for us. It makes us healthier and happier. And, it rubs off on other people, too.
Charles Osgood on his radio show, The Osgood File on CBS Radio, did a story about two doctors who conducted a study to find out just how the practice of gratitude affects a person. Dr. Michael McCollough of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis, conducted a study called the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving.
Three groups were formed out of a larger group of several hundred people. Each group had a different focus as they recorded events throughout each day. The first group kept an overall diary of events that happened during the day. The second group kept a record of all of the unpleasant things that happened to them during the day. And, the last group made a list of all of the things they were grateful for on a daily basis.
The results? That last group of grateful souls stated that they felt more alert, happier, full of optimism, and full of energy. They exercised more, took better care of themselves, had less depression, and were more excited about life, in general, and about reaching goals they had set for themselves.
One of the most wonderful findings (I think) was that people who feel and express gratitude also feel more loved themselves.
Gratitude is about being conscious and aware of the gifts in our life and taking the time to acknowledge those gifts. I like to think about gratitude as completing the circle….we receive the goodness of life (a blue sky, fresh air, the smell of lemons, a cat purring, evergreens during the holiday season, laughter with friends), and we express appreciation for this goodness. We give, we receive more gifts. The gifts are everywhere. We just need to wake up and pay attention.
After completing the study, Dr. McCullough stated that there is a way for you to bring more joy into your life, boost your health, and make a difference in the world…..you can count your blessings.
And, not just on Thanksgiving. Every day.