Why being grateful helps more than you know

You hear it all the time:

 Someone is trying to comfort you: “Be thankful you find out now!”

 Someone is trying to compliment you: “‘You got that job!  Be glad you have the skills to get outta here!”

 Someone is trying to charm you: “I wish I could see the bright side like you do.”

 Same message.  BE GRATEFUL.  And it is a sad truth of this century that we are always told these things when we are the least interested in being grateful.

As in, why did he let me down in the first place and I like my job here and what bright side - I don’t even notice the sun in the morning.


We’ve even created a day for it. 



Once again that magic time of year where "things I am grateful for" gets tossed around like Parmesan on a pizza. It's as much a part of the modern holiday as leaving the pie for the shopping at 5:45 sharp.

 We each toss out our short-list of thanks for this, and also for those, and all who hear us nod nicely with indulgent smiles.

 And all of us hope that no one notices that at least some of us are not telling the truth. 

 A truth we could tell is that we take all good things for granted sooner or later. A bigger truth is that a big enough gut punch from life guarantees our knowing of the good things just as they roll away into the shadows.  

 I have a couple of pieces of good news from that much maligned branch of study - neuroscience.


First, two of the glories of gratitude are: it stimulates the brain region that releases dopamine and that it increases serotonin production. Just like Prozac. You will feel better.

 And, if this is one of the years that the gut punch came and there really is nothing to be thankful for, hold tight to the looking, just keep looking. Because the search causes the same responses in the brain.  You will feel better.

 So, to our bodies and our emotions the facts of the moment don't matter. The search does.

 I will tell you now - who cares if neuroscience is real or not. The feelings of the thankfulness search most definitely are.


Be grateful for that.


I thank each of you for the places you take in and the meaning you bring to my life.