Health Bites

Thanksgiving Every Day

Being thankful is good for your health. This has become obvious from a number of scientific studies in recent years, and many articles have been written on the subject. It’s easy to forget to be thankful if you haven’t cultivated the habit. But once you learn the incredible benefits of gratitude, you won’t want to miss out on them!

For starters, gratitude can make you feel happier and more satisfied with your life. It promotes an optimistic outlook and helps to drive away negative emotions. It helps you cope with adversity and glean more enjoyment from good experiences. If you are thankful, you’re also less likely to take things for granted. Thankfulness can even improve relationships. If you let others know you’re grateful for something they’ve done—or that you appreciate some quality in them—you will encourage positive feelings in both them and yourself.

There are benefits to physical health as well. Gratitude decreases stress and boosts the immune system. It’s also good for your heart; researchers have actually measured improvements in cardiac rhythms and blood pressure in people who practiced thankfulness. The rewards associated with thankfulness span the mental, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of our lives!

How to Excel in Gratitude

Anyone can cultivate gratitude; it just takes practice. Writing out the things for which you are thankful—current or past blessings—is a simple exercise with great benefits. It doesn’t have to be a list of big things in order to reap big benefits, either. You can be thankful for a good-tasting piece of fruit, for instance. You can even feel grateful for something that didn’t happen. For example, it didn’t rain or your checkbook balance wasn’t quite as low as you thought.

Get one of those little spiral notebooks and start noting the blessings you’ve received. An excellent time to do this is at bedtime. Another study found that when people spent time writing down things they are thankful for before going bed, they slept easier and longer—adding another dimension of benefit. Here are more specific things you can do to raise your level of gratitude:

    • Think about the good things that have happened in your life. These can be past or current, and they can be tangible or intangible. Just thinking about them will brighten your mood.


    • Count your blessings; keep a journal or list of them.


    • Talk to others about the things you’re thankful for. This is a benefit to the listener as well.


    • Send a thank-you note to someone. This is another activity that benefits more than just you. Give someone a boost!


    • And most important, pray and thank God—the source of all good—for your blessings. The Bible advises us to “give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” (1 Chronicles 16:34). And the apostle Paul wrote, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

In good times and bad, there are always things to be thankful for. Sometimes it might be a struggle to recognize them when the chips are down, but it’s well worth the effort. You’re really re-training your brain to work in more positive ways. Most of us tend to focus more than we should on negative things. Being thankful can help to balance out this “negative bias.” So cultivate that gratitude. Practice thanksgiving every day and reap a bountiful harvest of happiness all year long!