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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday Science blended in with Thanksgiving

Robert A Emmons of UC Davis and others are conducting experiments in gratitude, the results of which indicate that the consequence of giving thanks has been linked not only to better sleep, less anxiety and depression, but also to kinder behavior toward others. Feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked. As reported in Tuesday’s NY Times Science Times, Dr. Emmons and his team recommend beginning with “gratitude light.” They ask folks to write down, just a sentence, about five things they are grateful for. After writing this mini-journal once each week for two months there were significant effects compared with a control group. People were more optimistic and felt happier, reporting fewer physical problems and working out more. You can read more in Dr. Emmons’s book, Thanks which details his research on gratitude.

Gratitude is not indebtedness. People who were helped in another experiment were more likely to help others; not necessarily paying back the one who helped them .Gratitude promotes good karma. Try it out. We may enjoy this holiday more by doing one small unobtrusive thoughtful or generous thing tomorrow for each of our dinner companions. Let’s express admiration for someone’s skills or talents, say thank you if someone smiles or does a kind thing for us and truly listen to what another person is saying. This information is not from me; it is from research.  Gratitude is the emotion of friendship. “Gratitude is what happens when someone does something that causes you to realize that you matter more to that person than you thought you did.”
This week I am truly grateful for my friend Martha who hemmed my hiking pants for me, for my friend Phyllis who accompanied me to visit Bob yesterday to help me decide if he is receiving the level of care he needs, to my cousin Nora who is formatting my book once again, this time for publication, to the folks at the United Methodist Church of Gilbert Alzheimer Support group for accepting me as their leader and for my daughter Linda who is modifying turkey dinner to accommodate my gluten and dairy-free diet. Happy Thanksgiving.

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