A few years ago when my kids loved to watch the Veggie Tale stories (as teenagers they still do watch though with less frequency). One song still rings in my mind sung by Madame Blueberry. “A thankful heart is a happy heart, I’m glad for what I have, that’s an easy place to start. For the love that we share, cause he listens to our prayers, that’s why I say thanks every day.” As Thanksgiving time is now here, I want to remind us all of the benefits of gratitude. In the book of Ephesians, is a text, admonishing us to give thanks for all things to God, the Father. There must be a health benefit in giving thanks.
In 1995, in The American Journal of Cardiology appeared an article which linked appreciation to heart rate variability. Heart rate variability means the ability of the heart to change speeds, to be able to speed up and slow down. This is good. People with good heart rate variability have better outcomes in congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease In the study those who were appreciative had greater heart rate variability and this helped with high blood pressure. Want to lower your blood pressure and risk of heart attack? How about being thankful? The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reported in 2003 that being thankful is linked to a brighter outlook on life as well as being a better friend. In 2011, The Journal of Happiness showed that being grateful translated to higher grades for high school students. The Journal of Applied Psychology demonstrated that those who journaled for 15 minutes each night about what they were thankful for, fell asleep sooner and stayed asleep longer. Want to rest better and let your body heal from a long day? Write down what you are thankful for.
Recently Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor at California-Davis, presented eight years of research in his new book “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make you Happier.” He found those who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an “attitude of gratitude” will experience multiple advantages including taking better care of themselves and having tendencies to engage in more protective health behaviors including exercise, having a better diet, and less stress. Can you imagine me giving this prescription to the pharmacy? Be thankful at least three times a day. Dispense 90 with unlimited refills!
As we are getting ready to feast, spend time with loved ones, and take a day off from work. In addition to watching football and Charlie Brown re-runs, let’s sing Madame Blueberry’s hit song, and better yet, make the words a part of our affordable health care plan, “A thankful heart is a happy heart, I’m glad for what I have, that’s an easy place to start. For the love that we share cause he listens to our prayers, that’s why I say thanks every day.”
Thank you for being you.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom and some of the research with us Dr. Marcum. There is definitely a connection between our level of thankfulness – an expressing it – and our health.
Being Thankful is one of the Biblical Principles for Living a Full Life that we address in our PathWay 2 Wholeness Bible Study in our Faith and Health Connection ministry.