Gratitude and Health
As John F. Kennedy once said, “We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” As it turns out, gratitude has many benefits, for the person who gives and for those who receive.
Recent research has documented that the regular practice of expressing gratitude has been shown to have positive physical and psychological benefits. Some data suggests improvements in the immune system and more data documents the positive psychological effects and positive emotions. Research has documented social benefits, like forgiveness, feeling outgoing and less lonely and isolated. There have also been studies that show that those who recorded things they were grateful for, like keeping a journal or writing a letter thanking someone, had an improved sense of well-being, increased happiness, better sleep, and felt a greater sense of optimism while connecting better with others.
At the Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology, we want to express our gratitude to all the people that help make our mission possible. Every donation that is made to the Center helps ensure that patients and families receive the care they need. We understand that the donations we receive are often acts of gratitude from patients, family and friends who give to the Center out of appreciation for the care that was provided without cost to their loved one. We want to express our gratitude by recognizing our supporters online and later in our newsletter. We hope you will visit our website where we express our gratitude to those who have already given and we hope that it encourages more people to follow their lead in helping to make a positive change in comprehensive cancer care. https://www.simmsmanncenter.ucla.edu/index.php/support-the-center/donor-thank-you/.
To make a donation to help support the Simms/Mann UCLA Center in the upcoming year and beyond, go to: http://www.cancer.ucla.edu/simmsmanncenter
For some people, gratitude comes easily; for others, it may be more difficult. There are some practices that can actually help to cultivate gratitude which may bestow positive benefits to you who uses these tips and to those who receive. Here are a few examples:
- Write thank you notes to individuals you have not previously expressed your gratitude. Be sure to express your enjoyment and appreciation for the other person’s impact on your life. Consider once in a while, writing one to yourself as well.
- Give a mental thank you. It may help to just think about someone who has done something special for you and to be thankful for their efforts.
- Keep a gratitude journal with daily notes on the special gifts and acts of kindness that you’ve received in which you are grateful for or the parts of your life that you are grateful to be fully engaged.
- Think about the blessings in your life and be specific in the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
- Meditate and focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.) or even compassion that you feel for yourself and others.
Mindful meditation embodies gratitude, presence in the moment and encourages meditation in compassion. This may be helpful in your process of cultivating gratitude in your own life. Interested in exploring meditation on a deeper level? The Simms/Mann UCLA Center provides Mindfulness Meditation classes that focus on enhancing well-being in the present moment for cancer patients. For more information about this group and to enroll, go to: https://www.simmsmanncenter.ucla.edu/?p=1600
To watch a video on CBS News’ “Mindfulness” coverage on 60 Minutes, go to: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/mindfulness-anderson-cooper-60-minutes/
To read Harvard Health’s article on “In Praise of Gratitude,” go to: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Mental_Health_Letter/2011/November/in-praise-of-gratitude
For more on “How Gratitude Can Improve Your Life,” go to: http://news.yahoo.com/gratitude-improve-life-154956153.html