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Giving Thanks
Thanksgiving is our nation¡¯s official time for giv-
ing thanks, counting our blessings, and sharing
kindness and courtesy to friends, family and
even strangers. The spirit of gratitude, defined
as ¡°the quality of being thankful, or readiness
to show appreciation for and to return kind-
ness¡± is a trait that should be cultivated each
and every day to improve the health and happi-
ness of you and those around you.
Gratitude is an attitude of empathy, an emotion
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. Research shows that
gratitude can be cultivated to improve our psy-
chological, physical and social health.
In their 2003 study, ¡°Counting blessings ver-
sus burdens: an experimental investigation
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 positive
and negative affects experienced as well as how
they coped, their resultant behaviors, physi-
cal symptoms, and their overall satisfaction
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. Numerous subse-
quent studies on gratitude have shown similar
The unique benefits of gratitude have been
shown to lead to more happiness and satisfac-
tion with life, more sense of feeling loved, and
lower feelings of stress or depression. Another
important result of increased gratitude is op-
timism, a brighter outlook for the future and
progress toward reaching goals.
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
psychological tool for countering depression.
Gratitude benefits extend to physical well-
being, with studies showing that grateful
people have better health behaviors such as
eating right and exercising more. Physical
benefits include more energy, better mental
focus, more restful sleep and less tendency
for illness and symptoms such as headaches
or fatigue.
Optimism and psychological happiness, both
strongly stemming from a sense of grati-
tude, have been shown to improve health
aspects such as healing faster after surgery,
surviving significant illness, and lowering
the risk of heart disease and mortality from
all causes.
¡°Paying it forward¡± could be used to de-
scribe the pro-social benefits of gratitude.
Bestowing appreciation for someone 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,¡± Patrick
Fitzgerald, suggests that the first compo-
nent of gratitude is the deep sense of appre-
ciation 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.
2016 October/November
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Health & Nurturing
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 Fitzgerald, the next step in the
gratitude process is showing gratitude toward
another person 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
details your sense of
gratitude for another
person. It could be
speaking words of
gratitude to a friend,
child or spouse,
pointing out specifi-
cally what it is about
them you are grate-
ful for.
In business and
social networks,
gratitude can be
shown by taking
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,
family, neighbors or
co-workers, focus on
the blessings 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, knowing 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 (
and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.
com). Call 970.245.6911 for an appointment or
more information.)
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
Technology helps people with diabetes
worry less about lows
(BPT) Diabetes is a complex disease to manage,
and it can be extremely challenging for people with
diabetes to keep their blood sugar levels within an
ideal target range. While reducing high blood sugar
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