The Health Benefits of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving rolls around, we tend to think of all the things that we are thankful for on this day:

Our family

Our home

Our jobs

Our friendships

The list goes on.

But it makes me wonder, why do we focus so much on giving thanks only one day out of the year?

According to this Harvard Health article, gratitude can lead to more positive feelings, greater happiness, and even improved health and stronger relationships. And a recent article in the Greater Good Magazine indicates that the practice of showing gratitude, whether through writing gratitude letters or maybe keeping a gratitude journal, can be beneficial to people who struggle with  depression or mental health concerns.

I personally found that showing gratitude was one way to help me through the loss of my nephew Tyler Bornstein.  I struggled, and am still struggling with my grief.  But one thing I tried to put into practice to help me through such a difficult loss, was thanking God every day for the 23 years he gave us with Tyler.  I know it will never bring him back, and I know it can never change the future for our family, but it gives me a time each day to reflect on the good memories and appreciate the time we had with him.  And it helps to bring just a little bit of healing.

My sister Shelly, Hope United’s Executive Director and Tyler’s mother, saw this bulletin board (below) and it inspired the idea for a blog on gratitude.  There are so many health benefits to fitting in the practice of showing gratitude, and giving thanks, into our daily lives.  Let’s start today - this Thanksgiving - our own “Thanksgiving Resolution” for the next 365 days, to give thanks daily for all that we have, to make showing gratitude a daily ritual, to push negativity aside and replace it with positive thoughts and appreciation. Make it a habit to show our thanks, whether it be in person, in a text, or in a hand-written letter.  Let’s make it a practice to say thank you to strangers, give a smile to that frustrated customer service rep, lend a hand to your neighbor, or simply give someone a hug.  Let’s choose to be grateful.  The end result, in addition to brightening someone else’s day, may be your own improved health and mental well-being.

 And just maybe we will have even more to be thankful for next Thanksgiving.