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Article 3 (Oct 2021): Being thankful: It's healthy
October 26, 2021Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
—Charles Dickens (M. Dickens, 1897, p. 45)
If we didn't have a Thanksgiving, we would invent one because giving thanks -- feeling gratitude -- creates health and happiness.
We really don't need a study to tell us that a thankful person is just plain nicer to be around that one who is critical and displeased with everything. But that study exists anyway.
In 2003, Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, and Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami conducted three experiments on the effect of a grateful outlook. They concluded: Results suggest that a conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.
The lore of our own Thanksgiving Day, seasonally criticized by the critics, does offer some genuine lessons in the practice of gratefulness. The pilgrims in 1620 didn't have all that much to be grateful for. They were oppressed in England and had to leave the country. Then they sailed for the New World, where they had to literally build themselves a place to live. Half of them died the first year.
For the Pilgrims, there was plenty of hardship and death in the past, with plenty more to come that they didn't yet know about. But they did manage to set aside a day in gratitude for their hard-won harvest.
That is the thing about gratitude -- it is always about the present. You can't know what will happen tomorrow. But right now, if you have to clean up your house, be grateful for the house. If you have to make dinner, be grateful for the food.
So happy Thanksgiving right now to you and yours. Be grateful.
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