ACT OF GIVING THANKS MIGHT BE GOOD MEDICINE
By Debbie Glasser, Special to The Miami Herald
In anticipation of Thanksgiving, our family decided to make a list
of all the things we feel grateful for. ''A fun, little holiday tradition''
is what we called it. So we pondered our blessings and jotted them
down. Every night for a week, we shared one or two of them with each
family's blessings ranged from the meaningful (''I'm thankful for
my family and friends,'' Ben, 10) to the not-quite-so-deep (''I'm
happy I have bananas!'' Sam, 3).
that was fine. Because we quickly discovered that the magnitude
of the blessings didn't matter nearly as much as the act of feeling
grateful for them. It felt good to give thanks, and we enjoyed this
it seems this exercise may not have been so little after all.
people feel happier and more satisfied with their lives,'' said
Mike McCullough, a professor in psychology and religious studies
at the University of Miami who researches gratitude and its effects
on health and well-being.
and his colleagues have discovered that people who regularly express
gratitude may experience fewer physical symptoms, feel more optimistic
about life, and even have more energy than those who don't take
the time to count their blessings and give thanks.
may even offer a protective effect during life's inevitable challenges.
you can focus on how things are going well, this seems to alleviate
the negative emotions we often feel when we're under stress,'' McCullough
MAKES US HAPPY
act of giving thanks may actually be good medicine, making us happier
and healthier people.
encourages parents to express gratitude regularly and serve as role
models for their children. He believes it's important for parents
to teach their children gratitude from an early age.
it is the most basic form of good manners,'' McCullough said. ``Also,
children will be more generous and concerned with the needs of others
if they regularly experience gratitude.
it seems to make people happy and may help them get through hard
times with a bit more grace,'' he said.
gratitude doesn't have to be in the form of creating a list. And
it doesn't have to be a Thanksgiving-only event. In fact, McCullough
hopes families will get in the gratitude habit throughout the year,
not just during the holidays.
might choose to keep a gratitude journal, a weekly diary documenting
things you and your family feel grateful for. Or you and your children
may prefer expressing your thanks out loud at the dinner table.
key is to express your gratitude, regularly, in some way that feels
most comfortable for you.
Glasser, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of
NewsForParents.org, an online newsletter for parents. She can be
reached at debbie@NewsForParents.org.
November 23, 2006