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Serve up a helping of Gratitude this Thanksgiving!

The most psychologically correct holiday of the year is upon us. Thanksgiving may often challenge our nutrition goals, but it may be the healthiest holiday for our psychological health as we benefit from the consequences of giving thanks. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others. You can greatly benefit from taking time to exercise gratitude this season!

Start with “gratitude lite.” Create a journal listing five things for which you feel grateful, like a friend’s generosity, something you’ve learned, or even a sunset you enjoyed. Keep it brief — even just one sentence for each of the five things. Keeping a gratitude journal results in being more optimistic and feeling happier.

Try it on your family. Do one small and unobtrusive, thoughtful or generous thing for each member of your family on Thanksgiving. Say thank you for every thoughtful or kind gesture. Express your admiration for someone’s skills or talents. Gratitude is more than just feeling good. It helps people become less aggressive by enhancing their empathy. It’s an equal-opportunity emotion. Anyone can experience it and benefit from it.

Share the feeling. Why does gratitude do so much good? More than other emotions, gratitude is the emotion of friendship. It is part of a psychological system that causes people to raise their estimates of how much value they hold in the eyes of another person. Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.

Contemplate a higher power. Often thinking about religion can cause people to feel and act more gratefully, research shows that praying can increase gratitude too.

Go for deep gratitude. Once you’ve learned to count your blessings, you can think bigger. As a culture, we have lost a deep sense of gratefulness about the freedoms we enjoy, a lack of gratitude toward those who lost their lives in the fight for freedom, or a lack of gratitude for all the material advantages we have. The focus of Thanksgiving should also be a reflection of how our lives have been made so much more comfortable by the sacrifices of those who have come before us. Gratitude simply promotes good karma!

If you would like further assistance on how to include gratitude in your healthy lifestyle, contact me at the Marysville Health & Fitness, 562-2424.


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