Word-Of-the-Week #858: Grateful

January 14, 2021 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #858: Grateful 

Gratefulwarmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.

Have you thanked your family and friends for the gifts or treats you received over the holidays? Did anyone thank you for yours? How did that make you feel?

This week features excerpts the San Diego UT by Sandi Dolbee, Celebrating the power of these two words: Thank you. Researchers have found that saying those two, single-syllable words can yield big rewards in our spiritual and physical health.

 “Saying “thank you” is good for you. 

Seriously, good for you.

 In study after study, from here to Tel Aviv, researchers have found that saying those two, single-syllable words can yield big rewards in our spiritual and physical health. 

In one project, participants were put into two groups, with one group asked to write about things they were grateful for and the other asked to keep track of the irritations they encountered. After 10 weeks, the folks in the first group were not only more optimistic but actually had fewer visits to their doctors. 

Another study found partners who expressed their thanks to each other had healthier relationships. 

And a UCSD study of patients with asymptomatic heart failure found that those who had higher gratitude scores, using a six-item scale, were associated with better sleep, more energy and even lower levels of inflammation, which can worsen heart failure. 

Part of the upside can be explained this way: Saying and hearing thank you causes the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions. 

But here’s the curious part: a national survey funded some years back by the John Templeton Foundation found that while most of us know how important gratitude is, we do a lousy job of actually thanking people. As the findings put it, “A significant gratitude gap exists in America.” 

The Rev. Reginald Gary doesn’t have to be convinced. Gary, who has been senior pastor of New Creation Church of San Diego for 25 years, believes this painless phrase is “vitally important” to our mental stability and to doing good in the world. 

“I think one of the reasons we have so much anger and grief in the world is that people don’t feel appreciated, affirmed and celebrated — and the two simple words ‘thank you’ does so much more than you can ever know,” he says. 

Gary thinks saying it and hearing it motivates us to do keep doing good deeds. “It’s one of the best things you can hear.” 

So why don’t we express it more often? 

“I think some people have different levels of gratitude,” Gary tells me. “They think what you’ve done for them is something you’re obligated to do for them.” He’s seen it first-hand. “There have been times in my life and ministry that I’ve done things for people and they have just taken it and gone, with never a word of thanks.” 

“I think you lead by example,” he says. He advocates teaching children to say it just as soon as they are able to talk. He remembers feeding his now-grown children when they were in highchairs. When they were done eating, he’d remind them to say thank you to he or his wife. “So now it’s just automatic.” 

He says “thank you” for both what he has and what he’s been spared. As he puts it: “The key is to be thankful for all the things that make you smile but also be thankful that you don’t have a lot of things that make you frown.”

“If you know anything at all about the science of happiness, you know that gratitude is great for our wellbeing,” writes columnist Jessica Stillman in Inc. Magazine. “It rewires your brain for positivity, boosts your energy levels and if your thankfulness is directed at someone else, makes the receiving party feel great.”

This New Year’s focus is on being grateful and expressing it! How many times in the past month have you said “Thank You” to someone?  Have you been able to feel thankful this past year even with all the craziness we have all experienced? Many people I know have expressed being grateful this past year for the unexpected things that have come their way!

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Word-Of-the-Week #717: Grateful

May 3, 2018 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #717: Grateful 

Gratefulwarmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.

How often do you feel thankful for all you have? Do you think you could feel grateful when faced with a tragedy? Can you be appreciative even on a bad day?

This is the follow up to last week’s Washington Post article “Resilience isn’t just being tough; it’s a skill you can develop. Here’s how I did it” by Steven Petrow. To Recap he wrote, 

“Resilience, it dawned on me, was more like balance than toughness. As I discovered with yoga, I can easily do what’s called tree pose (balancing on one leg) on some days; those are the days when my body can make the constant recalculations and readjustments necessary to remain steady. Other days I fall over like, well, a dead tree. That tends to happen when I’m ill, angry, distracted or tired. Over time, however, I’ve developed better ways to deal with what irks me, and my toppling days are fewer. 

My journey to resilience began through serendipity. Soon after my mother died, I was browsing at a local bookstore when I picked up the “Mindfulness Journal.” Author David deSouza, a co-founder of the meditation website Satorio, wrote, “You’re going to form the habits of mindfulness and meditation.” I would need to set an intention, he said, and be consistent in doing my homework. As he told me in an interview: “Meditation results in subtle, almost unnoticeable positive changes in our behavior, adding up over time, like compound interest. It helps you to identify the cause and effect of your emotions and actions, giving you the insight to say, ‘I am behaving like this because I am stressed, angry or hungry.’  

The homework was easy: Ask myself when I woke up, “How do you feel this morning?” and then give myself a grade from 1 (bad) to 10 (excellent). Record my exercise: Did I walk, go to the gym, do yoga, anything else?

Then the big question: “What are you grateful for today?” DeSouza said “it is uplifting, even on a bad day, to find something that will allow you to end the day on a positive note “and to then drift into a restful sleep.” 

The day my father died, I was grateful for the support of my brother and sister, the peace that I hoped Dad had found, and the chocolate ice cream neighbors brought over. 

Finally, the little book asks gently: “Did you meditate? For how long?” DeSouza is gentle but firm about this: “Meditation teaches us that nothing is permanent and during dark times, provides the knowledge that we will see the light again.” 

In the midst of all this, I saw my new circumstances as an opportunity to change, to move in a new direction. I also started seeing myself more like the willow tree — no longer weeping. It turns out that the secret to my resilience was what Brach knew all along: “Resilience grows when we become intentional about bringing our best to difficult life seasons.” 

That is guidance we all could use in these dark days.” 

This week’s focus is on being grateful. Have you ever asked yourself how you feel in the morning? How about keeping track of your daily exercise routine? Have you ever thought about what you are grateful for at the end of your day?

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WOW Word-Of-the-Week #279: Grateful

November 29, 2009 by · 7 Comments 

Grateful – appreciative; thankful.

Did your parents ever tell you how fortunate you were? Do you tell your children or grandchildren how fortunate they are?  Do you feel grateful for the life you have?

This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving and it is always a time when people reflect on how fortunate and thankful they are. This year though, it seemed to me everyone felt more grateful. How about you?

You would think that couples facing job losses and foreclosure wouldn’t be grateful and yet newspaper stories this week focused on just that. Even in the face of possible failure and defeat they felt thankful for all that they had.

I have always believed that there will always be someone who has more things than I do and that I will have more things than someone else. But all that means nothing, if you don’t have your health, or the love and camaraderie of your family and friends.

Thanksgiving Camaraderie

Thanksgiving Camaraderie

This Thanksgiving was one of the best I ever had. Everybody got along and much of it was spontaneous. Could I be getting more flexible and less rigid the older I get? Is that what happens when you let go of needing everything to be perfect?

This week focus on those things in your life that you feel grateful for.  Do you have your health? Do you need to connect with someone and let them know how thankful you are for having them in your life? Do you have children and/or grandchildren that give you great enjoyment?

Maybe having so many grand kids around made me feel more playful? I’m not exactly sure. But what I am sure of is that I am truly grateful to have so many wonderful family and friends and the joy they bring to my life!

Reader Responses

“Grateful is the perfect word for this time of year. As I approach my dotage, I find that the simple things are the most important. During my life I have never been a social climber. I realize that I don’t need very much to be happy. As long as my wife and kids are healthy, happy and terrific, that is really all that is important to me. I have told friends of mine that what I really enjoy is to simply sit in the backyard with a cup of coffee and a good book. I’m not a fussy person. I never aspired to be a millionaire. I just need enough to pay the bills and take a nice vacation with Kristen and the girls every year. My family has been blessed by good health, so it is something that I am very grateful for in my life. I read so many stories of those who have terrible diseases but have no insurance coverage. I am fortunate that through my work I have medical and dental coverage for my family. There are countless millions who don’t have any coverage. Hopefully, that will change with the passage of the Health Care Reform Act later this year or early next year. Growing up, my parents reminded us of the people around the world who were hungry and did not have anything in their lives. Now, I hear myself saying the same thing to my eight-year-old daughter at the dinner table when she won’t eat all of her vegetables. I don’t want to put the guilt trip on her, but I still tell her that one billion people in the world will go hungry that night. Because children have little perspective, they still have a tough time appreciating difficulties outside of their own little worlds. But, Erin Grace is learning. As part of her Brownie group at school, they have adopted a family in our area that is having a tough time making ends meet. The Brownies are preparing a food basket for that family, and will continue to do things during the year for it. There is a lot for which to be grateful for at this time of the year. Let’s try to remember that when others are worried about keeping up with the Joneses. Take care, Susan. Every best wish!” – “Warrior” Joe Moran.