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Tuesday, April 14, 2020

From "Woe is me" to "WOW is me!"

"Gratitude is an opener of locked up blessings." - Marianne Williamson

When I was about ten years old, my father, a minister who frequently called on sick people in the hospital, advised me that I should be grateful every morning I could wake up and pee. You can imagine how this comment made little sense to me as a fifth grader. It wasn't until ten years later while studying anatomy and physiology that I began to understand what my father meant - namely that we should never take for granted the miraculous ways that the human body works because soon enough our highly evolved functions of swallowing, pooping, peeing, speaking, and thinking will begin to falter, sometimes in the split second it takes to have a car accident, heart attack, or stroke. What are the measurable benefits of replacing our typical morning growls with gratitude? Bob Emmons, a UC Davis professor of psychiatry and expert on gratitude, performed groundbreaking research on gratitude thinking in patients afflicted with neuromuscular diseases. He instructed a subset of these patients to engage in daily gratitude journaling. Specifically, he asked them to start out each day by writing down three new things they were grateful for. He found that the patients who did gratitude journaling twenty-one days in a row or more had better health outcomes and mood scores than those patients in the control group. The positive effect of starting out each day with an attitude of "Wow is me!" as opposed to "Woe is me" was so impressive that Bob was awarded a $5.6 million grant from the Templeton Foundation to further investigate the science of gratitude. To bring this gratitude message home with a bang, I invite you to enjoy this gratitude video by Louie Schwartzberg and Brother David Steindl-Rast.

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