Each morning as I walk through our lobby greeting clients, I see a wide range of emotions. Some people are showing the stress of the hard circumstances that have brought them to our office. Others, who have been rolling with the punches for awhile, carry a tougher exterior. But just as often I will be taken aback as I talk with someone whose voice and demeanor tell me that, despite hard times, this person is glad to be alive. They have a softness and a quiet cheerfulness that seems contrary to what is going on in their life.

Growing up we are told to have good manners and say “thank you” whenever we get a gift or someone helps us out. That’s a good habit to get into, and it teaches us that being grateful is a good social strategy. After all it makes us each a nicer person, and other people like us more. That’s all good, but there is something more to being thankful. What I am reading about nowadays is that gratitude is actually good for our spirits and for our minds.

Here is something about gratitude that I read on the Wikipedia website: “A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of subjective well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships…Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life…Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use. Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep. Gratitude has been said to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait.”

“Multiple studies have shown the correlation between gratitude and increased wellbeing, not only for the individual but for all people involved. The positive psychology movement has embraced these studies and in an effort to increase overall wellbeing, has begun to make an effort to incorporate exercises to increase gratitude into the movement. Although in the past gratitude has been neglected by psychology, in recent years much progress has been made in studying gratitude and its positive effects.”

Maybe the experts are finally catching up with the folks I see waiting in our office. Those clients seem to know already that being grateful can keep you afloat in the bad times and better able to cope all year around.

With Thanksgiving coming up, I am put in mind that the holiday is not just about big families in a warm house gathering around a table of turkey and the trimmings. It is about, those who can appreciate the gift of their life, wherever it may be taking them.

Thanksgiving is a celebration of gratitude. I hope you enjoy yours however you celebrate it.

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Richard A. Stevenson - Wayne Township Trustee

Wayne Township Trustee Rick Stevenson was elected Trustee in November of 2006 and took office in January of 2007. He is very passionate about helping those in need and considers it a privilege to be in a position to be able to help. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer