~ The Art Of Change ~ with Carol Omer ~

Art and Creativity as Mediums for Empowerment , Connection and Change…

It’s official!…. Gratitude and thankfulness are good therapy…

Posted by carolom on November 22, 2007

Sometimes people are so outraged by and indignant towards what is going on in the world around them, that is all they think, talk, write and IMAGINE about, flooding their body constantly with the stress chemicals of outrage, indignation and despair…aging quickly whilst saging very slowly… I subscribe to the belief that our inner world, physically and metaphysically is created by the quality and content of our Thoughts and that the most powerful feelings for the personal and collective expansion of love, healing, influence and connection are the ones that empower the mind, body and Spirit. Anger, resentment, outrage…they disempower our capacity to remain peaceful and effective in this complex and psychologically challenging world of the 21st century…

I came across the following article on the web and couldn’t agree more!

Being grateful brings emotional, physical benefits, experts find

http://www.sacbee.com/101/story/502167.html
Florence Low / flow@sacbee.com

Angie Lee-Ow, who is battling lung cancer, looks over the wedding pictures of her daughter Kristina Rios, right, at Rios’ Elk Grove home last Thursday. “It is cliche-ish, but truly, when you have cancer, you look at every day as a gift,” Lee-Ow said.

UC Davis psychologist Robert A. Emmons says that even when the odds are against you, having gratitude can bring many emotional – and physical – benefits. Gratitude, he said, is not something to be kept tucked away until the holiday season.

“What we have learned is that gratitude generates positive outcomes,” said Emmons, who has written extensively about gratitude.

Angie Lee-Ow might be angry. The advanced lung cancer she has is failing to respond to yet another type of chemotherapy.

For Lee-Ow, a 56-year-old retired pharmacist who has been undergoing cancer treatment for 2 1/2 years, every moment is steeped in gratitude, the sentiment that Cicero called, “not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

“It is cliche-ish, but truly, when you have cancer, you look at every day as a gift,” she said. “I try to spend as little time in the negative as possible.”

That means enjoying retirement, helping others who have lung cancer, spending as much time with her husband and daughters as possible, and looking forward to the birth of her first grandchild.

So grateful is Lee-Ow that she spearheaded an appreciation lunch last week for all the lung cancer doctors at UC Davis Medical Center who try to cure people like her.

“Viewing life as full of opportunities and gifts – and even challenges – can make us more resistant to stress,” said Emmons.

In one of his studies, he examined the role of gratitude in adults with neuromuscular diseases. He found that when people reflected on the things in life for which they are grateful, rather than on complaints, their outlook and disposition improved, as did their overall satisfaction with their lives.

Although the science of gratitude is a relatively new field, and definitive links between the practice of being grateful and health boosts such as lower blood pressure or cholesterol have not been demonstrated, believers abound.

“There is an association between gratitude and health,” said Jennifer Sadugor, owner of The Yoga Solution studio in Sacramento. “When we are grateful, we can relax, and be in a better space than when we’re resentful, angry and bitter, and I think those emotions have a negative effect on our body.”

Sadugor said she practices gratitude every night when she climbs into bed. This week, she said, she is grateful for the care her 9-year-old dog is getting for a collapsing trachea; for her 90-year-old mother who is coming for Thanksgiving; for her home, her job and for her own good health.

Emmons said grateful people may view their own bodies as a gift, and therefore work harder to keep them healthy. Practicing gratitude in general seems to promote a healthy lifestyle, he said.

In one study, Emmons found that people who kept journals detailing the things for which they were grateful actually spent 1 1/2 hours more per week exercising than those who didn’t track their gratitude.

These subjects also reported longer and better quality sleep, an indicator of overall health.

“These people tend to report higher levels of positive emotions, things like enthusiasm, feeling more vital, more alive and more alert,” he said. “These (feelings) indicate a person is positively engaged in their lives and with their environment.”

Emmons and others who study or practice gratitude recognize that many obstacles can stand in the way of the emotion, particularly in more technologically advanced societies in which competitiveness, individualism and a sense of victimization can be pervasive.

Prayer and other traditions including meditation and yoga, according to Mary Paffard, a Ukiah-based yoga instructor who runs workshops focusing on gratitude, can undermine stress and anxiety and provide emotional balance to those pervasive negative thoughts.

She’s noticed that students who use gratitude in yoga are calmer, their breath softer. She’s also noticed that practicing gratitude produces generosity.

“We use the body as a metaphor for the rest of the world,” she said. “If I can be grateful for what I have here, that automatically will extend out. When people let go of pushing the uncomfortable away, they are more likely to take on and understand other people’s suffering.”

In taking on other people’s suffering, Rose Parr, too, lives and breathes gratitude. Parr is a hospice volunteer for the UC Davis Medical Center, who spends several hours each week with patients who are terminally ill and their families.

Parr, 57 and in good health, gets nourished each day with the gratitude of the people, often steeped in grief over the imminent loss of a loved one. Last week, she called 77 people receiving hospice services, asking if they could use a pre-cooked Thanksgiving dinner delivered to their home.

So far, 53 have answered yes. “You can hear it in their voices, these are people who really need the help,” she said. “They are so grateful. … They are overwhelmed.”

One woman said she didn’t know what she was going to do about the holiday this year, telling Parr, “I was so depressed, and you call, and make it all better.”

That, Parr said, “is what this is all about.”

*********

I am very grateful for our ‘room without walls’ and the evenings spent under the stars….

I am very grateful for our ‘room without walls’ and the evenings spent under the stars….

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