Almost 1 year into chiropractic school, the holidays were approaching, and my young, grad-school family of five was humbled to be on the needier side of holiday cheer.
An uninsured deer had recently totaled my commuter vehicle, and the heavy load of classwork in the first year does not allow for the opportunity to hold a job and earn any extra income.
We weren’t destitute, but we weren’t planning on having anything extra for the holidays.
That Christmas of 2018, we were immensely blessed by someone we affectionately call “the Ghost of Christmas Presents."
For months, my wife literally got teary-eyed when my boys, then 4 and 3 years old, showed her the multi-colored towers and spaceships they built with Legos, anonymously gifted. Her heart swelled when she saw our infant daughter cuddling her little stuffed doll, so generously donated.
I’d be lying if I said my eyes were dry when I opened an envelope containing a generous monetary contribution dedicated to funding a functional car to replace my totaled one in the driveway.
The gratitude I felt that winter was overwhelming.
The gratitude I feel just typing this today and sharing it with you has a deeply powerful impact on my emotions and state of mind and even my physical being. I feel it coursing through my veins and permeating my every thought.
I recently read an article entitled “Effects of Gratitude Meditation on Neural Network Functional Connectivity and Brain-Heart Coupling." The science was fascinating, but understanding the science is not necessary to experience the idea that gratitude makes us feel good.
In the article, it was stated that “Positive emotion has been associated with enhanced self-regulation and resilience… In particular, expressing gratitude is known to promote positive mindsets and reduce stress levels. Gratitude is an important component of mental healthiness throughout life, and it contributes to mental well-being. Gratitude has been associated with a lower risk for psychiatric disorders, higher life satisfaction, and wisdom.”
I like the sound of all of that! And if it can come from saying more "thank-you"s or pondering on a poignant experience of deep gratitude from my life... Then bring it on! Even without all of these incredible health benefits, gratitude is its own reward.
With Thanksgiving behind us and more meaningful holidays still to come, let us immerse ourselves in the feelings, actions, and rituals of gratitude.
Kyeong S, Kim J, Kim DJ, Kim HE, Kim JJ. Effects of gratitude meditation on neural network functional connectivity and brain-heart coupling. Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 11;7(1):5058. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-05520-9. PMID: 28698643; PMCID: PMC5506019.