I’m here today to proclaim good news—
the good news that thanksgiving is GOOD for you!
Well, perhaps not the fat from the stuffing
or the gravy
or the butter on those heavenly mashed potatoes.
Nor maybe the sugar from the pumpkin pie and whipped cream.
Nor any of the additional calories we consume on “THE DAY.”
But thanks giving, giving thanks, is indeed healthy for you!
And there is even research to prove it.
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a study.
People who REMIND themselves of the things that they are grateful for—
people who count their blessings one by one, consciously, EVERY day—
show SIGNIFICANT improvements in mental and physical health.
Here’s how the study worked: College students were asked to fill out
a weekly report of five things they were grateful for.
They listed things like “the generosity of friends”
and “the Rolling Stones”.
Another group, made up of adults with chronic ailments like cancer and diabetes
was also asked to write down a list of things that made them thankful.
At the same time, comparable groups were asked to count their hassles,
instead of their blessings.
This other group listed aggravations such as “hard to find parking”
and “finances depleting quickly”.
Instead of focusing on how rich and gifted they were,
those in this other group meditated on their POVERTY.
In the end, the research showed:
grateful people FELT better about their lives
more optimistic about their prospects.
Not only that, there were unexpected PHYSICAL differences as well:
The thankful college students exercised more,
and the chronically ill adults, the ones who recounted their blessings
reported sleeping longer, and waking up more refreshed.
They reported being nicer to their neighbors.
They were more willing to help people with their personal problems,
All this lead the researchers to conclude that GRATITUDE
can serve as a “moral motivator”[i]
Now, I don’t think that you MUST be consistently thankful to be a good person.
This study doesn’t say that,
just that people who consciously counted
their blessings were somehow motivated to share them with others.
That’s a good thing. No one is thankful all the time. That’s not really possible.
But counting your blessings. It is so good for you. You know?
But, is it just me, or does it just FEEL HARDER to be grateful these days?
To recognize the goodness that surrounds us;
to trust the gift of other people in our lives
To see grace as it is coming down the road
rather than AFTER it smacks us upside the head?
One afternoon, a shopper at Oak Park Mall felt the need for a coffee break.
Around this time of year, you know, the lines start getting long.
the crowds get to be a bit impatient.
She bought herself a little bag of cookies and put them in her shopping bag.
She got in line for coffee and found a place to sit at one of the tables.
It was pretty crowded. [Read more…]