After a particularly divisive and negative election season, many might be craving a bit more positive energy and healing. The hectic pace and excessive consumption of the holidays can also cause stress. For these reasons, now is a particularly good time to focus on gratitude and generosity to others.
It turns out that being grateful is actually good for your health. WebMD has reported on the findings from Robert Emmons, University of California Davis Psychology Professor, who said, “Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have extolled gratitude as a virtue integral to health and well-being”. Recent gratitude research suggests that feelings of thankfulness have a positive value in helping people cope with daily stressors at home and at work. Easy ways to express gratitude are to write in your journal one thing you are grateful for each day or to talk about it around the dinner table as a family.
Similar to gratitude, helping others makes us feel happy, which can improve our well-being and health. It can also help heal the divide that this election season has created in our country and help us focus on helping each other instead of tearing us apart. Many religious traditions have charity as a core pillar and it has long been viewed as an antidote to the darker side of human nature. This past Tuesday, November 29th, was Giving Tuesday, and was an worthwhile opportunity to help others through monetary donations to charity. However, there are ample opportunities throughout the holiday season and the year to donate time and money to helping others, be it serving in a soup kitchen, donating food or toys to those less fortunate, or participating in community clean-up days.
Furthermore, expressing gratitude around the dinner table and volunteering as a family are excellent ways to instill good values in your children and create positive shared experiences to help them cope with anxiety they may be feeling from the election or other negativity in their lives.
In summary, a focus on gratitude and generosity can generate positive results for society and personal health and well-being.