Thanks, For Goodness Sake!!!
Since this month is hectic, brimming with holidays, I thought I would share this installation as a thank you to you, for joining me here. Since the last many months have been a challenge for most of us around the world, I want to express my gratitude for being able to continue my work and be able to share despite our “new reality.” We can all use a boost, and since I’m aware of the amazing benefits of gratitude, I’d like to share some inspiration here about it. A cursory search for “gratitude and wellbeing” on PubMed* results in dozens of studies, each showing a multitude of benefits for expressing and practicing gratitude. For instance, in studies about gratitude journaling, the results demonstrated that people who practiced journaling for a specified period of time, daily, were healthier, spent more time exercising, less time in physical pain, slept not only longer, but better! In other studies, gratitude was shown to induce the “Relaxation Response.” Additionally, “counting one’s blessings” was shown to reveal significant improvements in hypertension as well as improved “pre-sleep” conditions. Many other studies show various additional advantages to this very easy practice. Sonya Lyubomirsky and the famous Harvard “Happiness” professor, Tal Shahar, educators and researchers in positive psychology and character strengths, recommend expressing gratitude often and appreciating and savoring individual experiences. In her, “The How of Happiness,” Dr. Lyubomirsky suggests gratitude and savoring are two of twelve activities that help individuals truly experience happiness. However, this isn’t a new phenomenon, even though it has only recently been “discovered” through clinical trials, Jewish wisdom knew this all along.
The Torah is replete with its emphasis on expressing gratitude and not taking things for granted. On a regular day, Torah observant Jews say dozens of blessings, thanking G-d for various things such as simply being alive, food, clothing and shelter, having good health, being safe from danger, and more. You may be aware that every morning, the Code of Jewish Law enjoins us to thank G-d for returning our soul! The prayer, “Modeh Ani – I give thanks,” is to be said every morning upon awakening. The words are, “I give thanks before You, living and enduring King, for You have graciously returned my soul within me. Great is your compassion.” The Midrash (Bereishis Rabbah, 14:11) says that with every single breath we breathe we should express our thanks to G-d! Since, hopefully, we’re always breathing, that’s a lot of gratitude (approximately 57,600 seconds of our waking hours each day!) Obviously, no one is that mindful (or obsessed) with such a practice, but the Midrash is emphasizing its significance. Not only does the Torah think gratitude is advantageous, but it and other positive emotions are considered “character strengths” that contribute to overall wellness. We can discuss those in another installment. Meanwhile…
As a thank you gift, I am sharing my “Four Gratitudes Practice” in the image below and a collection of Torah excerpts on gratitude (CLICK HERE for the pdf). I hope you will enjoy them. Feel free to share, I thank you for doing so!
And here are my 4 Gratitudes (click on the image to go to the download page):