The Science of Gratitude
Studies say that the benefits of practicing gratitude are nearly endless. The research indicates people who regularly take time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for–even the little things–experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, are more compassionate and kind, and even have stronger immune systems.
Today, the day before Thanksgiving, seems like one of those days when we could all use a gentle reminder to practice a little gratitude. Filled with shopping lists, last minute details, and making sure the house is clean; the day before Thanksgiving tests the patience of us all. But in your rush, please, remember that being grateful is the real reason for the season—and focusing on what we’re thankful for will help all of us feel happier and more peaceful.
A 2015 study found that heart patients who practiced gratitude daily improved their moods, slept better, had less inflammation, and reduced their risk of cardiac attacks. A 2014 study found that college students who expressed gratitude regularly were more likely to make new friends. A 2011 study found that those who struggled to sleep because of stress were more likely to fall asleep after writing down simple things in their lives they were thankful for. And research by UC Davis psychologist Robert Emmons says that keeping a gratitude journal—regularly writing brief reflections on moments for which we’re thankful—can significantly increase well-being and life satisfaction.
Yep, being grateful truly has lasting, positive impacts in our lives, and I can’t think of a better time than Thanksgiving to acknowledge those things for which I am most grateful. Here in Ukiah, my list starts with the givers—the volunteers and non-profit organizations committed to helping those less fortunate than ourselves.
Throughout the year, givers take the time to be present and available when others need support, when they need someone who will listen to them and help them.
Often, when we begin recognizing the things we are so grateful for, we want to give back, either by volunteering or by giving monetary donations. If you’ve never volunteered, now might be the perfect time to start. If you prefer to help financially, I encourage you to consider donating locally where your dollars will have a tremendous impact.
Right now, there are hundreds of people who survived the recent fires but lost all their belongings. They need support to start rebuilding their lives. If you’d like to help them, please consider giving through the Community Foundation’s Disaster Fund for Mendocino County. This fund supports our local non-profits that provide disaster relief and recovery services. To make a tax-deductible contribution, go to www.communityfound.org and click on the link to the Disaster Fund page.
This weekend also marks the start of the annual Food Bank Fund Drive in the Ukiah Daily Journal to ensure our local food bank has the resources it needs to deliver food year-round. If you’d like to contribute, please drop off checks payable to the Ukiah Food Bank to the Ukiah Daily Journal office at 617 S. State Street, or to the Food Bank at 888 N. State Street.
And our Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort is hard at work to ensure that local families in need will have toys and a nutritious holiday meal this Christmas. To support the Christmas Effort, send checks payable to the Ukiah Valley Christmas Effort to P.O. Box 801, Ukiah, CA 95482. If you have questions, please contact President Sheryl Graves at (707) 272-9627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We sure are lucky. I couldn’t be more grateful for all our community has.
Thank you, Ukiahans, for helping to make Ukiah such a wonderful place.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to call me. If you would like to know more about crime in your neighborhood, you can sign up for telephone, cell phone and email notifications by clicking the Nixle button on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.