Health Benefits of Gratitude

By Joan Janzen

The Thanksgiving holiday is behind us, but the value of maintaining an attitude of gratitude continues to be beneficial throughout all twelve months of the year. Pastor Kelly Froese and his wife Kim, from Kindersley commented on the topic.

As he speaks with many people throughout his work day, Pastor Kelly has first hand experience of the value of gratitude. However, it was in his capacity as a parent that he discovered the true merit of being grateful.

“Children pick up on everything, including our attitudes. Having a two and a half year old in the house, we have been very conscious of our responses,” he said. He noted his response to something as simple as a spilled drink at the supper table is important.

“In a world filled with battles, uncertainties and disappointments, equipping our children and youth with the right attitudes and perspectives is essential,” he advised. “Perspective gives kids a good offence against pressures in our world that try to consume them.”

Dr. Caroline Leaf, PhD is a well known cognitive neuroscientist and author, who has been doing research on mental health since the early 1980s. She says teaching people how to manage their mind is incredibly important because our minds are the driving force of how we experience life.

Our mind is involved in everything and in processing experiences. Dr. Leaf says if we have a messy mind, how we process experiences into our brain will also be messy, which in turn affects our overall well being.

Clinical trials have shown that if you practice gratitude every day for at least nine weeks, you can literally build gratitude into your brain. She also said that research has shown that being thankful can increase our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to solve problems. Gratitude literally infuses hope throughout both sides of the brain.

According to Dr. Leaf, gratitude is a free antidepressant, as it releases dopamine and serotonin, which are mood enhancers. She says gratitude is one of the most powerful tools to improve your mood, mind and mental health, and it’s free!

Practically speaking, she pointed out the value of volunteering. Helping others always helps volunteers become more grateful for what they have themselves.

Pastor Kelly aptly summed up the value of gratitude, saying, “Thanksgiving, although only recognized as one day in a year, is but a reminder of what we should recognize every day! I choose not to let the frustrations and disappointments take away from the blessings I experience every day.”

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