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Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving is our nation¡¯s official time for
giving thanks, counting our blessings, and
sharing kindness and courtesy to friends,
family and even strangers. The spirit of grati-
tude, defined as ¡°the quality of being thank-
ful, or readiness to show appreciation for
and to return kindness¡± is a trait that should
be cultivated each and every day to improve
the health and happiness of you and those
around you.
Gratitude is an attitude of empathy, an emo-
tion or feeling of virtue that involves the
recognition and appreciation of something or
somebody. This sense of goodwill often leads
to a desire to think and act positively. Re-
search shows that gratitude can be cultivated
to improve our psychological, physical and
social health.
In their 2003 study, ¡°Counting blessings
versus burdens: an experimental investiga-
tion of gratitude and subjective well-being in
daily life,¡± authors Emmons and McCullough
had two groups of college students keep daily
journals, one group tracking things they were
grateful for, and the other keeping a log of
things they found annoying or irritating.
The study groups kept records of both posi-
tive and negative affects experienced as well
as how they coped, their resultant behaviors,
physical symptoms, and their overall satis-
faction with life. Not surprisingly, the study
showed the group tracking gratitude had
much higher markers of personal well-being,
as well as social and physical benefits. Nu-
merous subsequent studies on gratitude have
shown similar outcomes.
The unique benefits of gratitude have been
shown to lead to more happiness and satis-
faction with life, more sense of feeling loved,
and lower feelings of stress or depression.
Another important result of increased grati-
tude is optimism, a brighter outlook for the
future and progress toward reaching goals.
2015 December/January
Pg 6 - The Sunshine Express
Health & Nurturing
component of gratitude is the deep sense of
appreciation that requires a sincere reflection
on what it is that we are grateful for, to reflect
on what it means to us, and to recognize the
source.
For some people, gratitude comes easily, and for
others it may take a little more direction.
A simple way to start the process of cultivat-
ing gratitude is to reflect each and every day,
perhaps even writing in a journal, on just a few
things that we are grateful for. It need not be
complex or grandiose, for the simplest of things
may promote the most gratitude. Examples
might include being grateful for the fresh air, a
sunset, a chance to take a walk, a good night¡¯s
rest, a helpful co-
worker, a kind boss,
or a friendly neighbor.
According to Fitzger-
ald, the next step in
the gratitude process
is showing gratitude
toward another per-
son or thing with a
sense of goodwill and
by acting positively
due to that appre-
ciation. This may be
something as simple
as sending a thank
you note that de-
tails your sense of
gratitude for another
person. It could be
speaking words of
gratitude to a friend,
child or spouse, point-
ing out specifically
what it is about them
you are grateful for.
In business and social
networks, gratitude
can be shown by tak-
ing time to point out
how much you enjoy
working with a co-
worker, or offering to
assist them because
you appreciate their
efforts. Recognizing
employee input and
effort at regular staff
meetings or making
time for a luncheon
with a colleague, and
pointing out what it is
about them you are
grateful for, is another
way to share your
gratitude and grow
social harmony.
As you gather for the holidays with friends, fam-
ily, neighbors or co-workers, focus on the bless-
ings and the people for which you are grateful.
Speak of these blessings, and to those you are
thankful for, telling them in specific terms what it
is that makes them special. Then keep that spirit
alive all year long by spreading gratitude, know-
ing it leads to better health of the mind, body and
spirit for you and those around you. By the way,
I¡¯m grateful for you, dear reader, for taking the
time to read my column. Best wishes to you and
yours this holiday season!
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia, weight loss and
other complex medical conditions. He is founder
and medical director of the Integrative Medicine
Center of Western Colorado (imcwc.com) and
Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (bellezzalaser.com).
Call 970.245.6911 for an appointment or more
information.)
It seems that gratitude won¡¯t share
the stage with negative emotions such
as envy, anger or bitterness and the
ongoing practice of gratitude serves as
a coping mechanism for dealing with
adverse situations, as well as a psycho-
logical tool for countering depression.
Gratitude benefits extend to physical
well-being, with studies showing that
grateful people have better health be-
haviors such as eating right and exer-
cising more. Physical benefits include
more energy, better mental focus, more
restful sleep and less tendency for ill-
ness and symptoms such as headaches
or fatigue.
Optimism and psychological happiness,
both strongly stemming from a sense of
gratitude, have been shown to improve
health aspects such as healing faster af-
ter surgery, surviving significant illness,
and lowering the risk of heart disease
and mortality from all causes.
¡°Paying it forward¡± could be used to
describe the pro-social benefits of grati-
tude. Bestowing appreciation for some-
one is shown to start a behavioral ripple
effect leading to further acts of kindness
and gratitude. The social aspects of
gratitude are even shown to help build
new relationships.
CULTIVATING GRATITUDE
Author of ¡°Gratitude and Justice,¡± Pat-
rick Fitzgerald, suggests that the first
Medicine
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
Vitality
by
Sandy Lauzon
Dance and Longevity
Bounia loved to dance. She danced with every
one of her seven grandchildren. It was what the
kitchen floor was for. She danced between the
stove and the sink as she prepared the meals of
the day. She danced as if no one was watching,
and most of the time, no one was watching. The
only place I saw her in action in public was at the
church hall.
Once a month her church hosted a dinner and
dance with a live band. She and her friends
would prepare Ukrainian food, holupchies and
pirogues, borscht and breads, fried pastries and
cookies. All the food was served downstairs in
the dining area. The men would have a beer or
two, the ladies and children had a soft drink, and
sometimes, if everyone was in an especially good
mood, a small bag of Blackstone potato chips.
Life was good.
Dad and Mom had given the speech before we
entered the hall. No running around like wild
monkeys, no sliding on the dance floor, eat
what is on your plate, no fighting with the other
children, and have a good time. Geez, what was
left? My uncles and aunts saved space at the big
long table so that the family would eat together.
Bounia never sat to eat, she and her friends were
busy serving the food. Gege (my grandfather)
was in the band, so he ate beforehand with the
other musicians.
Then the band would leave the dining area and
head upstairs to tune up, and anticipation was in
the air. The grownups were in no hurry to leave