In our family we have a Thanksgiving tradition of joining hands in a circle around the dinner table and each one sharing something that they are thankful for. You and your family probably have your own traditions, but one thing is sure– this is the season when our thoughts and conversation shift to what we’re thankful for.
Psychologists and counselors know that taking time to be thankful has benefits for well-being. Not only does gratitude go along with more optimism, less anxiety and depression, and greater goal attainment, but it’s also associated with fewer symptoms of illness.
In recent years, researchers have been making connections between the internal experience of gratitude and the external practice of altruism (selfless concern for the well-being of others). Studies have shown that the more grateful people are, the more altruistic they tend to be. In fact, MRI scans taken of the brain show that the neural connection between gratitude and giving is very deep, both literally and figuratively.