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Why Being Grateful is Good for You

Lori Hart, PhD
Lori Hart, PhD
Director of Educational Initiatives

I love the Thanksgiving season for many reasons — the food, fellowship, more food, and, most importantly, it’s a time of year based on gratitude as the true gift. There is significant research on gratitude and the summary is this…practicing gratitude is GOOD for you!

While a lot of the blogs we write have actionable tactics you can take to help protect your business or fraternal organization, I wanted to take a different spin knowing we’re in the season of gratefulness. So, here we go!

Research Backs Up the Goodness of Being Grateful

I found the following information in this article, and I thought it would be great to share:

Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude.

In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).

After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

Another leading researcher in this field, Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, evaluated the impact of various positive psychology interventions on 411 people, each compared with a control assignment of writing about early memories. When their week’s assignment was to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness, participants immediately exhibited a huge increase in happiness scores. This impact was greater than that from any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.

My Personal Grateful List

So, knowing that, what better time to reveal just a few of the many things I’m grateful for in my life:

  • For my mom and the hospice workers that care for my father in his last season. For my friend and babysitter Lynn who loves my kids as their own.
  • My dog Helen. She died in October, and she was THE dog. While I miss her, I am so grateful for the decade I got to spend with her and the lessons we learned together.

In this season of gratitude, Holmes Murphy is also on my list!

  • For our insurance plan, which is affordable and provides excellent coverage. I don’t take that for granted.
  • For my friend Bobbi, who has endured health challenges this year and coming out on the other side.
  • For the clients who trust me to help them to create safer organizations. I have come to love so many of them as friends.

So, take time to pause. Find a peaceful moment and make your gratitude list. You might just find it makes you feel better!

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