Gratitude - a Virtue for Health

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Although we associate our thanksgiving as a feast with our families, it is a good reminder of the health benefits of gratitude. Giving gratitude can actually shape our brains to bring us an experience of more joy in our lives. Shawn Achor, a Harvard graduate, wrote a book on “The Happiness Advantage” after doing a research study which showed that no matter the age, bringing awareness to a few things a day we were grateful for actually changed our brains to help us achieve more joy in our lives. You can start by writing down five things that you are grateful about each night before you go to bed, letting your gratitude go beyond the Thanksgiving table and into your daily life. Journaling to music can be particularly evocative. Music I love to journal to includes the music of Kristin Hoffman, Sacred Earth, Deuter, Carlos R. Nikai, Stephen Halpern, Gary Malkin and East Forest.

Here is a list of questions you can reflect upon and write about in your journal while you listen to some of this music:

How would you live if you knew that you were going to die in one year?

Name five things that you do for yourself.

Describe yourself using five different words.

What would you say is your most important achievement so far?

If you had only three days left to live, what would you do?

If your future healthy self 10 years from now could tell you a message, what would that be?

Here's my own personal sharing, a thanksgiving poem I wrote to Mother Earth:

Thanksgiving Poem

You never demanded anything of
Me
You simply laid yourself out
Millions of miles long
Thousands of layers deep
Billions of years old
In your astonishing beauty
You came to touch me
In a different way
With undulating lines
Refracting edges of sunlight
Ridges that give me the shades and tonalities
Of a bird drifting into the horizon

You gave me wind
To play with this
Substance I live off of
Oxygen in my lungs and blood
You tickle my hair with it
And soothe my thinking mind
With the warmth and stillness of your sun warmed air

You didn’t ever say to me
Drink from me
Eat from me
Relax with me
Be filled in Joy with me

You simply existed
In your full glory
Regardless of who took
Who gave back
How much
And with what greed or fairness

None of that matters to you
You are far gentler than all that

So, I say today
Thank you
Thank you for sustaining my bones, muscles, organs and mind
With your luscious nutrients and tastes
Thank you for inspiring me and soothing me
With your Beauty
Unsurpassed

Thank you for your silent language
Of the dance of light, earth, wind and water
Flowing, dancing, solid

Thank you for your Infinitude
Of never-ending variety
Your Holy Container
For all of humankind
And
In All of That Immensity of Gifting
Your Grand Humility
I bow to the mystery of You

By Dr. Jacqueline Chan thanking Mother Earth