The Importance of Saying Thanks
November 21, 2014
On Thanksgiving Day, you'll likely take the time to think about how fortunate you are, and possibly even share those sentiments with guests gathered around the dinner table. Or maybe you will show your appreciation by cooking up a storm or sending relatives off with care packages.
Wouldn't it be great if every day could be Thanksgiving, not just for the good eats but for the way it makes you appreciate all that you have in your life? The truth is that showing gratitude can and should be part of your everyday life, especially if you're looking to maintain your current weight during the holiday season. While there's no magic pill for health and happiness, research has revealed some pretty compelling reasons to give thanks on a daily basis:
It may keep the doctor away. In a study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, participants were asked to jot down a few sentences in a journal each week, focusing on particular topics. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives than those who focused on sources of aggravation. What's more, the grateful subjects also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians.
It keeps you motivated. When, for example, you take a moment to appreciate any recent health-related accomplishments, whether you've recently lost a few pounds or dialed down your blood pressure medications, it makes you want to continue on your journey and see what other exciting developments lie ahead.
It improves your mindset. When you focus on the positives in your life, you automatically become less critical and judgmental—both of others and of yourself. In his book “Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis cites research involving thousands of people conducted by a number of different researchers around the world. These studies suggest that practicing gratitude can increase happiness levels by around 25 percent. Just as there's a certain weight that your body strives to maintain, there's a happiness set-point, which expressing gratitude can raise.
It helps you see beyond yourself. By acknowledging the source of the goodness in your life, you're likely connect to something beyond yourself— whether its to other people, nature, or a higher power.
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