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.