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Gratitude 1

  • Date Submitted: 03/10/2012 02:22 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 66.3 
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Most people know that the Thanksgiving tradition started with the Pilgrims, who organized a feast in gratitude for their first successful harvest.   If your Thanksgiving is like mine it may include a big meal with family and friends that begins with a moment of gratitude.   Traditionally, in this moment, I think about the pilgrims, then I think about how grateful I am for a good hot meal, a full tummy, and, hopefully, an afternoon of boredom.   But, I confess, before I can even say “pass the dressing, please,” my thoughts turn to some fear, either real or imagined.   Is the dressing undercooked?   Will grandpa talk politics? Will Uncle Bill fall off the wagon and hit the vodka?  
What I fail to remember is that a spirit of gratitude can be cultivated, just like the pilgrims cultivated the fields.   In fact, just in the past decade, research is proving what the pilgrims may have already known -- that a spirit of gratitude contributes to happiness, a sense of well-being, better brain performance, and maybe even longevity.  
Before you dismiss the importance of gratitude as pop-psychology consider just over one decade ago researchers led by Psychologist Robert Emmons, proved that gratitude is central to human happiness.   Others, like brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen, can now demonstrate through imagining technology the brain functions in a much healthier manner when thoughts of gratitude exist as opposed to thoughts of fear.   Writers like Sarah Ban Breathnach, who wrote “Simple Abundance,” have shown us how to bring a spirit of gratitude into our daily lives.
If you’ve tried to cultivate a spirit of gratitude you know it can be hard work.   There are several rituals that have been shown to help people cultivate a spirit of gratitude.   The most popular has been to keep a gratitude journal.   It is simply keeping a daily list of items for which you are grateful for today.   If you stick to this ritual over time your brain will begin the habit of searching for things to be...

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