As we prepare for turkey, trimmings, and delectable desserts this week, let’s not forget the words of Edward Sanford Martin: “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.” And, too, being thankful is good for our heart, body, mind, and spirit, every
Derived from the Latin word gratia, gratitude means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. It is recognition of what is good in one’s life; to appreciate what we have; and a value of thankfulness.
And, gratitude helps us recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside of ourselves—people, nature or a spiritual connection. What are the health benefits of being grateful? —Overall: Increased overall happiness —Emotional: More good feelings; more relaxed, more resilient, and more good memories —Personality: More optimistic, empathetic, and spiritual, higher self-esteem; less materialistic, bitter, and self-concerned —Social: More social; nicer and more trusting, as well as kinder and having deeper relationships —Health: More sleep, healthy eating, more energy, exercise, and lifespan; decreased illness and depression —Career: better management, networking, goal achievement, productivity, and decision-making. One study showed that grateful high school students typically perform better scholastically and have better social integration and satisfaction in life compared to their not-grateful counterparts.
What are some tips to being grateful? —Choose to look at the glass being half-full. Especially when we are thirsty, let’s feel gratitude for having something to drink. This past year has taught me that it is not so much a challenging situation that is upsetting, it is my perception of it. And, too, when one door closes, another — sometimes more than one — opens. Let’s be grateful for the closing and opening of doors. They may not be what we
expected, but they were meant to be.
—Write it down. I keep a gratitude journal where I write down at least three things, every single day, that I am grateful for. They stem from the important—health (myself and family’s), freedom from oppression, the food I eat—to the mundane.
—Express gratitude to those we love. As William Arthur Ward stated: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” Take the time to pick up the phone or write a letter or email to tell our loved ones how they have impacted us. Or, reciprocate by doing something thoughtful for them, like giving them something of ours that they may enjoy, mowing their lawn, or helping them tidy up their home. And my favorite: look at them in the eyes and tell them that they made our world a better place.
—Express gratitude to people who support and serve us — at home, on the job and too within our community — and our country. Thank them with words, a smile, or writing a note; tell their boss they are doing a great job; or leave a larger than usual tip.
—Express gratitude to people we work with. We spend the better part of most days with our colleagues. Expressing gratitude to them not only can foster team building, but also improve productivity. Consider buying them a cup of coffee, writing them a thank you note or email, complimenting them when they do something well, or offering to help them with their duties.
—Express gratitude to those who challenge you. Every relationship provides an opportunity to love, trust, forgive, set boundaries, and teach. Be grateful for the lessons they taught us, the new perspective on life they forced down our throat, and, even, that they are no longer in your life.
Being thankful with a sincere attitude of gratitude can bring us happiness which affects our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. As Gobble Gobble Day approaches, let’s remember that there are another 364 days in the year. Let’s focus on what we have and not what we lack, everyday. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. So, on this day, I would like to say thank you, gracias, salamat, grazie, merci, and danke to each of you.
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Dr. Nina Radcliff is dedicated to her profession, her patients and her community, at large. She is passionate about sharing truths for healthy, balanced living as well as wise preventive health measures.
She completed medical school and residency training at UCLA and has served on the medical faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. She is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists where she serves on committees for Young Physicians and Communications. Author of more than 200 textbook chapters, research articles, medical opinions and reviews; she is often called upon by media to speak on medical, fitness, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle topics impacting our lives, today.