Listen to an Important Thanksgiving Message on Gratitude

Listen to an Important Thanksgiving Message on Gratitude

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by Don Ingwerson

Thanksgiving comes just once a year – and there have been many blogs and articles lately on the importance of gratitude for societal and personal health. But it’s important to look for opportunities to give thanks to God throughout the year. So I’m sharing an audio of Julie Ward showing how important it is to be grateful to God and recognizing God as the source of all good.Continue Reading

What Heals a Broken Heart?

What Heals a Broken Heart?

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by Don Ingwerson

“Me heart broken,” my 3-year-old grandson said with tears in his eyes as he hugged his mother. This after he had gotten a little too rough in playing and had accidentally hurt her. Her physical hurt immediately drew a reaction from him – a reaction of sympathy, sorrow, and seeking forgiveness.Continue Reading

Gratitude Lifts Mind and Body Over Himalayan Pass

Gratitude Lifts Mind and Body Over Himalayan Pass

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A gratitude-based approach to healthcare has its rewards and my colleague Eric Nelson experienced the benefits it brings when he was trekking through the Himalayan Mountains. Even though the mountains in Southern California aren’t nearly as rigorous, Eric’s message is just as pertinent. I’m sharing an excerpt, and there’s a link below to the full article.

As far as I know, my wife and I had already purchased our tickets to Nepal before grasping entirely what we’d committed to: an 18-day trek through the Himalayas including an ascent up Thorung La – at 5416 meters (17,769 feet), one of the world’s highest mountain passes.

Sure, we had experience hiking to the top of some pretty big hills. But even our one-day trot to the top of California’s Mt. Whitney – the tallest peak in the Lower 48 – couldn’t compare to what was in store for us.

The first few days of the trek were just about as carefree as they come as our small group of adventurers (7 clients, 7 porters, and 2 guides) slowly but surely made our way through the balmy jungles, alpine forests, and hillside rice paddies of the Marsyangdi River valley. However, the closer we came to Thorung La, the more aware I was of the potential health risks involved with high altitude trekking.

To read the rest of the Eric’s article originally titled “Giving Thanks Lifts Mind and Body Over Himalayan Pass” click on this link for Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com.

You can also find him at www.norcalcs.org.

Feeling Good About Giving

Feeling Good About Giving

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by Don Ingwerson

Now that Christmas is over, I’ve been thinking about how giving and happiness relate. Not so long ago our family decided to adopt a family in need during the holiday season. It took a while to find a community agency that had a list of needy families, but with persistence we got the name of a family and the names and ages of the children. Christmas Eve we took our gifts to our adopted family.

They spoke little English and we spoke little Spanish, so communication was more felt than spoken. After we presented our gifts and visited for a while we prepared to leave, but this family invited us to join them in a community dinner around an outside fire pit. Sharing in that dinner, I felt that we had received more than we had given, and I deeply felt the good for my fellow man. Each Christmas, I find my thought returning to the family we shared Christmas with that evening. Yet, there have been other times when giving didn’t result in the same sense of satisfaction or happiness, and I wondered why.

This past week I reviewed an abstract of a study on the subject of giving and I was a little surprised by what it said. For instance, the evidence “only weakly supported the idea” that helping others leads to higher levels of happiness for the one giving. It went on to say that when you combine happiness and giving, the data show that happier people give more, and giving makes happy people happier. The research showed that after experiencing a positive event of receiving something, those receiving it were happier and more likely to help others, and those who felt good continued to be more helpful to others. (Isen and Levin, 1972)

This study about giving raises some interesting points. For instance, to give just because it seems the right thing to do, or to satisfy someone’s expectations does not increase the giver’s happiness. But when you combine an existing happy attitude with giving, the giver’s happiness is increased. (This seems to work in a circular motion. A happy person is inclined to give more and a happy person tends to have better health. But to give to achieve happiness or healthy does not seem to work.)

Another important aspect of giving is how the giver is rewarded. This study indicated that to reward the giver with extrinsic rewards might affect his altruistic feelings and actually reduce giving long term. We get a glimpse of why intrinsic rewards for giving tend to support long term giving in a study by Professor Emmons, U.C. Davis Psychologist and Editor in Chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology. He has found that “those who are grateful and express gratitude improved their happiness score by 25%.”

Since being grateful improves one’s happiness, these same qualities reportedly have a positive effect on one’s health.

I’ve thought a lot about why someone would feel like giving or helping and at other times would not feel like giving, even though the cause involved is thought to be important. According to David Aderman (1972) only those individuals with a positive mood are more likely to help others, and this upbeat mood increases altruism, feelings of competence, and volunteerism.

For myself, I found that giving to the family in need was of personal importance and not just an activity. Because this activity stirred my innermost feelings, it made me happier and my mood was more positive. My happiness with what I was doing had a positive effect on me and on my sense of health. But each act of giving must stir your innermost feelings if giving is to be meaningful and health giving.

Article first published in Blogcritics and previously published January 12, 2012.

What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?

What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?

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A guest post written by Donna Clifton from Whittier, California.

“Christmas is all about getting exactly what you want!”

Believe it or not, those were the actual words in a radio advertisement I heard, and they dismayed me. Although the normal mantra is that Christmas is about giving, not getting, this sentiment is belied by the questions we often hear right after Christmas: “What did you get?” “Was Santa good to you this year?”

The desire to get what we want is natural, but to make that the focus of Christmas obliterates the real meaning of Christmas. We protest that we know it’s all about giving. Unfortunately this kind of giving mainly means shopping, shopping, shopping.

Traditional Christmas gift giving probably won’t change any time soon, but what if we make a more concerted effort to shift the focus back to the true purpose of celebrating Christmas – the birth of Christ in this world? What if we did that instead of making Christmas mainly about giving gifts to each other? What if We Celebrate the True Meaning of Christmas?

One thing my family has done to minimize the gift giving is to have a “secret Santa” exchange of gifts. Rather than everyone buying a gift for every member of the family, we each draw a name and then only get that one person a gift. Even children can participate in this type of giving. This has helped our family focus less on the material aspect of Christmas and more on the spiritual message.

And this spiritual message – the true spirit of Christmas – is to thank God for giving us Christ Jesus. This kind of gratitude is best expressed in deeds, not words – and also leads to a healthier outlook on life.

19th-century health researcher and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, writes in Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Action expresses more gratitude than speech.” She goes on to say: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds. To keep the commandments of our Master and follow his example, is our proper debt to him and the only worthy evidence of our gratitude for all that he has done.”

This Christmas season I have been thanking God for all the good in my life, especially the healings I’ve experienced through reliance on God. I believe God gives us everything we really need – such as His ever present, all-encompassing love. Isn’t that much more meaningful than a new red sweater, a DVD, or an iPad?

I am not just thanking God with words but am striving to express gratitude with unselfish deeds and a more patient, understanding heart. The giving of loving kindness to each other is the most meaningful gift of all. And giving gratitude to God for Christ Jesus is expressing the real spirit of Christmas.

Gratitude Offers Expanded Perspective

Gratitude Offers Expanded Perspective

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A guest post written by Carol McFall from San Luis Obispo, California.

Real gratitude is powerful.

I’m not talking about a Band-Aid to make us feel a little better, or a way to sweep problems under the rug. Gratitude doesn’t just nudge us in the right direction — it is the right direction. You might say it is a mental standpoint we can move to — and we’d better get going because where we stand mentally impacts the quality of life and of health.

Here in San Luis Obispo, we have this unique geographical feature of seven Morros — volcanic mountains — marching in a row through the town and into the Pacific Ocean at Morro Bay. One of our favorites to climb is Bishop Peak, right on the edge of town. From the street, you see the mountain looming above. The path up is strenuous, but as you climb, you get a much different view. Halfway up, where the meadows break and the trees and big rocks take over, is a lovely little oak grove providing a shady place to sit, catch your breath, and enjoy a little picnic (if you’ve been so clever as to bring one).

But keep on climbing, and as you get to the top, you get a far broader perspective. You see the outcome of geologic forces in the other Morros stretching out in front of you. You see the Pacific Ocean in the distance, and on a really clear day, you can see the curvature of Earth. The higher you go, the more you see.

Gratitude offers a similar perspective. The higher we go in thought — in filling our hearts and our consciousness with love and thankfulness — the more we get to see and experience that abundance. This impacts our lives and the lives of others as we figure out how to share this good. It’s an expansive standpoint, rather like sitting on top of Bishop Peak.

The personal health benefits of a grateful heart and a positive standpoint are now quite widely recognized. It doesn’t stop with oneself, however. The founder of my church, Mary Baker Eddy, put it this way: Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.

This holiday season, thank God with all your heart for all blessings! Acknowledge what is good wherever it is found.

Article first published in the San Luis Obispo Tribune.