It’s Thanksgiving week, and I want to do what I can to temporarily stave off the onslaught of Christmas commercialism. Over $400 billion dollars of consumer spending is looming out there, not to mention the success or failure of the entire national economy, and they are determined to have you start yesterday! What are you waiting for? Hurry up and eat your turkey and get spending! So let’s focus just for a brief moment on thankfulness.
It turns out being grateful is good for you. So says Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at U.C. Davis, in his research project on gratitude and thankfulness. According to the study, “Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress.”
As an experimental comparison, some participants in the study kept a journal of things they were thankful for. “…those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events.” In an interview with the Orange County Register, Dr. Emmons says, “Basically gratitude is about remembering.” (Hmm… that certainly sounds familiar.)
David knew a few thousand years ago what science is just learning. “Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me.” And he went on in Psalm 103 to make a list of those good things. Let’s try an experiment of our own, shall we? Take 10 minutes sometime this week to write a list of all the things you are thankful for in your life. Making a list, and checking it twice, may just be your best protection against the onslaught of holiday commercialism.