A Thankful Heart is a Healthier Heart

Thanksgiving is coming soon.  Now, as a single mom, you probably think you know what this article is about, Yes, yes… I know… I know. If I practice finding something to be grateful for, it will improve my spiritual heart, making me feel better.

Well, this article is not about our spiritual hearts. It’s about our physical hearts, the muscle in our chest that gives us life.  It’s about taking care of our health - not by dieting or running two miles a day, (well thank the Lord for that), but rather considering the impact gratitude has on this organ called the heart – that is, looking at a wider outlook on life that involves noticing and appreciating the positive aspects of our world.

I read an article the other day by Dr. Paul Mills, PhD, professor at University of California, where he conducted a study involving 186 men and women who had been diagnosed with asymptomatic (Stage B) heart failure for at least three months. Mills commented, “Stage B consists of patients who have developed structural heart disease but do not show symptoms of heart failure. This stage is an important therapeutic window for halting further disease progression. Now is the time to turn it around.”

And what do you think they discovered was a hidden key in altering the negative effects? By using standardized psychological tests, the researchers revealed that the practice of gratitude made all the difference.  Patients were asked to write down three things for which they were thankful most days of the week for eight weeks.  Mills reported, "We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. We concluded that a more grateful heart is a healthier heart and that gratitude journaling is an easy way to support cardiac health."

As for me, I’ve never kept a journal just for the sake of documenting my blessings, but I have kept journals for years in my communion with the Father. Yet, I am thoroughly convinced of this concerning my gratitude barometer: I need to be more intentional about being thankful. It doesn’t come naturally for most of us.  It’s easier to grumble than be grateful.  Yet, being grateful fulfills God’s command to take care of our bodies. I’ve never considered that practicing gratitude literally strengthens this temple of mine.

So guess what I’m doing today?  I’m purchasing a journal – my gratitude journal – and I am going to do what Dr. Mills asked his patients to do: record three things I’m grateful for every day for eight weeks. Hopefully by Thanksgiving Day, I’ll have an invigorated new me to share.

I’ll keep you posted. 

About Pam Kanaly   Read more by this author...

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I'd have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms. Join me at www.pamkanaly.com

Recent Articles

How Can Single Moms Thrive this Holiday Season?

Christmas is almost here. Though it can be tough in many ways, there’s much you can do as a single mom in laying the ground work for favorable memories. Sometimes moms just need to be proactive in making room for joy. So here’s a few planning tips that will allow God to extend His presence into your holiday experience.

Read More

Asked and Answered

I’m not the only one of us who fantasizes about unconditionally obedient and compliant children. I’ve talked to enough of you to know this is high on our wish list for Christmas. But no, much of my conversation with my darling offspring seems to be debating relative truth. Why can’t they just accept my word as the final, lock-it-in, don’t-need-to-phone-a-friend truth? I am the mother, after all. Surely that counts for something.

Read More

Treasured Gifts

As an elementary and middle school teacher for 24 years, I received every gift imaginable from my students. Some were left on my desk with notes from the parent; others were quickly handed to me by hormone-filled teenagers as they paraded into my classroom, but a few would find their way to me through a big smile, outstretched hands, and delight that only a little child can express.

Read More