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January, 2020 Edition
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Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful. Recent studies show that being grateful may have a profound effect on our lives. A study by Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley suggests that people who actively reflect on what they are grateful for experience better mental health. These results continued weeks after the study. The simple act of writing one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks improved their mental health.

Others write daily about the things they are grateful for. Oprah Winfrey kept a gratitude journal for over a decade. She would write down 5 things that she was grateful for each day. Gratitude does not have to be associated with large events or activities. We can be grateful for a sunny day, a tasty meal, or anything that we enjoy. Oprah Winfrey related to the graduating class of 2017 at Skidmore College, that knowing what you’re grateful for can help you make the right decisions and find success in work and life.

Self-help Guru Tony Robbins spends three minutes each day focusing on something simple that he is grateful for. After this, he devotes three minutes to prayer, then completes his “three to thrive,” by spending three minutes concentrating on three goals he is committed to achieving.

The Greater Good study revealed that gratitude letter writing helped people avoid focusing on the negative in their life. The letter writers were not required to send the letters of gratitude they wrote to others. Those that did not send the letters experienced the benefits of gratitude as well. The act of focusing on what you are grateful for may change your mindset and help you avoid negative thoughts and feelings.

The study showed that gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain. Researchers measured brain activity with an fMRI scanner after establishing an experiment. A benefactor gave participants money and asked them to pass it on to someone else if they felt grateful. Participants who felt grateful gave more of the money to charity and showed distinct brain activity.

Experts suggest the benefits of gratitude can be enormous. Happiness, more friends, career success, and better health are just a few of the benefits believed to be associated with gratitude. It takes time for these benefits to manifest, but we can learn to be more grateful over time. It may be worth a few moments to reflect on what we are grateful for each day.

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