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I’m Thankful for Sunrises A s Thanksgiving approaches, the subject of gratitude and thankfulness is top of mind. Many families will gather around the table and take turns listing off what they’re grateful for. It’s a wonderful tradition, but gratitude isn’t something we should take out once a year before putting it back into storage like holiday decorations. Beyond the importance of counting our blessings, there’s a lot of scientific evidence to suggest that practicing gratitude has health benefits. A long time ago, when I’d watch the sunrise or sunset with my father, he’d recite a rhyme from ancient mariners: “Red How Gratitude Helps Your Heart and Your Life
sky at night, sailors’ delight. Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” When I see a red sunrise, I can’t help but smile and think about my dad.
A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences found that people who regularly practice gratitude report experiencing fewer aches and pains and feel healthier than other people. Additionally, Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies to confirm that practicing gratitude can increase happiness and reduce depression. One study that I found to be really interesting explored how gratitude can help us cultivate deeper friendships. One way we can practice gratitude is to not just think about what we’re grateful for but also why we are grateful for it. For example, while I’m not thrilled to be awake before dawn, I really enjoy watching the sunrise in the morning. It’s something I’ve enjoyed for years. Recently, I asked myself why, and I learned there are many reasons I’m grateful for the sunrise. I’m grateful for the opportunity to greet the sun as it comes up. I love the stillness and calm of the morning. The birds are flying about, but there’s not a lot of traffic yet. It’s quiet as the sky changes colors. I’m especially grateful for red sunrises.
There are many ways we can make gratitude a focus in our lives all year long. I once knew a woman who, when she was in her late 80s, told me how she would “put the day to bed” every night. When she climbed into bed at night, she’d close her eyes, think back on everything that happened that day, and be grateful for it. She would fall asleep with a grateful heart and wake up ready to enjoy a fresh new day. The amazing thing about gratitude is that it doesn’t matter how old you are. Everyone can benefit from having gratitude in their lives. As we celebrate good food and gratitude with our loved ones this Thanksgiving, I invite you to look for opportunities to carry gratitude over into your everyday life.
From all of us here at Visiting Angels, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.
Cindy Saunders, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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