November 27, 2017
By Jane Bishop Halteman

Gratitude board…thankful for family and friends and food and warm houses and the glories of nature and so much more!

A proliferation of gratitude stories is lighting up the internet this Thanksgiving season with news that gratitude is beneficial to your health.

The University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine has discovered that more grateful people enjoy better health than less grateful folks—specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms, according to Sacred Science writer Nick Polizzi who quotes the study’s author, Paul J. Mills:  The grateful people revealed “a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue, and they slept better. We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk.”

Author Polizzi suggests that it is “almost impossible to be upset and grateful at the same time,” adding that “being thankful flips a switch inside of you that clears out any negative feelings you were experiencing a few moments before.”

Polizzi offers “three easy ways to bring more gratitude into your life” including offering thanks for each new day, breathing a daily gratitude prayer one meal a day, and keeping track for the next 10 days of one thing for which you are grateful.

And he has compiled a list of potential gratitude “inspiration” ideas as you ponder those things for which you are grateful…consider what you like about yourself, what you are learning from challenges, your favorite people, the good things about your job or your location, what you are looking forward to, the state of today’s sky. Certainly there is no end to the things for which one might muster up gratitude, even at the close of a year which may have seemed more trying for many Americans than usual.

A USA Today article advises that feeling gratitude, keeping track of why you are grateful, seeking out things for which to be grateful even in difficult times, and expressing gratitude to one another are sure-fire ways to develop “appreciation for what is valuable and meaningful in life.”

The article cites Shilagh Mirgain, a health psychologist with University of Wisconsin Health, as saying, “Research suggests that individuals who feel grateful experience lower blood pressure, improved immune functions, recover more quickly from illness, and can more effectively cope with stress.”

And “a sense of gratitude can reduce the lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and even substance abuse disorders,” according to the article, which reports that “gratitude has one of the strongest links to mental health, more so than even optimism.”

This Los Angeles Times story details “10 reasons why it’s beneficial to cultivate an attitude of gratitude” that extends beyond Thanksgiving: gratitude empowers you, helps fight addiction, combats the Facebook blues, boosts self-control, helps you sleep better, fosters a sense of community, aids in fending off depression, facilitates your becoming a better spouse, makes you an improved boss/manager, increases life satisfaction for kids.

Joan Chittister in The Breath of the Soul: Reflections on Prayer says that “Gratitude is not only the posture of praise but it is also the basic element of real belief in God. When we bow our heads in gratitude, we acknowledge that the works of God are good. We recognize that we cannot, of ourselves, save ourselves. We proclaim that our existence and all its goods come not from our own devices but are part of the works of God. Gratitude is the alleluia to existence, the praise that thunders through the universe as tribute to the ongoing presence of God with us even now.”

Chittister speaks of “coming to prayer with an alleluia heart.”  Her gratitude prayer goes like this:
“Thank you for the new day.
Thank you for this work.
Thank you for this family.
Thank you for our daily bread.
Thank you for this storm and the moisture it brings to a parched earth.
Thank you for the corrections that bring me to growth.
Thank you for the bank of crown vetch that brings color to the hillside.
Thank you for pets that bind us to nature.
Thank you for the necessities that keep me aware of your bounty in my life.”

How are you expressing gratitude to the Divine and those around you?