ThedaCare Health Matters

Being thankful can be good for your health

Thanksgiving is a day set aside as a holiday to give thanks for what we have. Traditionally, it has been celebrated in the fall to give thanks and show appreciation for the harvest.

Thankfulness or grate-fulness is a healthy emotion. Much of how we feel or how we perceive our sense of well-being is linked to our emotions. People who practice gratefulness on a regular basis tend to feel better and be healthier. There is a saying, “In our daily lives we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful but gratefulness that makes us happy.”  

I have seen people who seem to have poor physical health, but are happy because they do not dwell on the negatives. Instead, they can appreciate the positive things in their life. People who take time to count their blessings experience benefits especially in their mental healthiness. 

People who are grateful on a regular basis tend to be more optimistic and optimism is linked to happiness. It has been reported that a grateful attitude can boost the immune system, help relieve stress, improve outcomes in surgery and improve sleep. Also, it has been reported that optimists have a lower risk of heart disease and that happy people live longer. 

Thankfulness and gratitude can be expressed inwardly through prayer or meditation. It can also be expressed outwardly to parents, teachers, coworkers, nurses, policemen or soldiers to name a few. Gratitude can be expressed through words or written in cards. 

Children who learn to express gratitude at an early age and learn not to take things for granted tend to be better students and have more friends. There are reported benefits to those who give thanks and to those who receive thanks. Expressions of thankfulness to employees have been associated with improved productivity. 

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