Why be thankful anyway?

Maybe some of you spent a little time going around the table at Thanksgiving dinner sharing something you’re thankful for?

While the holiday is mostly about gorging on food and/or spending time with loved ones, there is this sweet notion of a holiday about counting our blessings and giving thanks.

I’ve taken that a step further with Month of Thanksgiving, daily reflections on things I’m grateful for. Bob Dylan has a song writing philosophy that the more personal the lyrics, the more universal they are — so instead of a generic song about heart break, he’ll write about a very specific break up — and I’ve taken that approach with my gratitude posts. Maybe sharing what I’m grateful for will connect with you and inspire you to be grateful.

But why be thankful anyway?

Here’s a snippet of a post I wrote last year, kicking off Month of Thanksgiving ’09

There’s a self-help adage that says what you focus on expands. You’ve seen it in action if you’ve ever worried some small detail until it became an irrationally large part of your waking thought. Now we’re going to do it in reverse and focus on the good.

The Providence Journal wrote:

Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, a professor who many consider to be a leading authority on the “science” of gratitude, has summarized what he considers the most significant findings of a project that he and Michael McCullough of the University of Miami conducted with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation”:

•In one experiment, adults who kept “gratitude journals” on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to adults in two other groups.

•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, while self-guided exercises in gratitude with young adults resulted in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy.

•Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods, are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated, and are more likely to share their possessions with others.

If you want to read more about Emmons, click here.

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  1. Take time today to give thanks — it’s good for you « Newvine Growing — exploring evolution, revolution and living life intentionally

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