Thanksgiving Day could be the healthiest holiday of the year!
There has been plenty of news coverage about the rising cost of ingredients for this year’s Thanksgiving Day feast along with recommendations about diet. A big part of the celebration involves food and family recipes. But what might make this Thanksgiving a truly healthy day is not what is consumed, but the gratitude shared.
In President Obama’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation signed last week, he reminds Americans to ‘set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.’
Could that providence or divine care include health? I think so. There have been many studies linking spirituality to better health. “Research findings are slowly coalescing into a coherent picture of how the human body and human health is affected by the perennial human quest in various forms for spiritual and religious truth,” according to a study published in 2005, HANDBOOK OF THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY.
And now researchers are looking at the connection between gratitude and wellness. A Harvard Medical School newsletter published this month recognizes psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami who have done extensive research on gratitude. The result of one 10 week study indicates those individuals focused on gratitude were more optimistic and felt better.
“Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect,” according to the article. “But most of the studies published on this topic support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.”
The article goes on to suggest ways to cultivate gratitude. These include:
Write a thank-you note.
Thank someone mentally.
Keep a gratitude journal.
Count your blessings.
And these might be just part of what President Obama means by paying forward in the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation:
“As we gather in our communities and in our homes, around the table or near the hearth, we give thanks to each other and to God for the many kindnesses and comforts that grace our lives. Let us pause to recount the simple gifts that sustain us, and resolve to pay them forward in the year to come.”
Giving thanks has always put a smile on those I have shared it with. And that’s a healthy thing for them and me. Thank you for reading and Happy Thanksgiving.