Thanksgiving and the Benefits of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds us to pause and be thankful for the blessings in our lives.  There are many benefits to being grateful that range from the scientific to spiritual realms. Forbes magazine article points out that science has demonstrated physical and mental benefits of being grateful. These include better health, sleep, and self-esteem.  Being grateful also improves your humility and enables you to focus on and serve others.



Over the past few years, I’ve identified 3 major parts of my life that I am thankful for.


Each day, I take the time to be thankful for my wife and kids and record that emotional fact daily in my journal.  I’m also thankful for my mother, sister, and my wife’s family, many of whom who have been by our side and helped us greatly through times of hardship and joy in the journey of life. From births to birthdays, to hospitalization, and death, our family has always been there without fail.



I’m also thankful for the opportunity to serve my country and its people.  Serving in the military alongside some great Americans and being a part of something greater than yourself is extremely rewarding. This holds true even during the times that the call of duty takes you far away from home.


2nd Chance at Life

A few years ago, I had a near-fatal parachuting accident (occupational hazard-see above) that changed my perspective on life. A close call with death in which you have no control leaves you extremely vulnerable. That vulnerability led me to understand that I must rely on others to make it in this world.  Interdependence makes life more enjoyable than self-reliance, which is an area that I still try to improve in my life.


Near-death experiences seem to have an immediate benefit of being able to identify what’s truly important in life.  Since my accident, I’ve made changes in how I eat, sleep, and where I spend my time.


I’m not sure why God spared my life and extended my time on this Earth, but I assume it is for a purpose.  I try to dedicate each remaining day I have to try to seek out and fulfill that purpose.


Regardless of our current situation, most of us can find something to be unhappy about. Conversely, and more importantly, there is also always something to be grateful for.  There are more benefits to viewing the world from a perspective of gratitude. The benefits include bringing joy to other people as well as being happier yourself. Give it a try not only on Thanksgiving but throughout the year to see a difference in your life.


Question: What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?


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Photo Credit: A Marine greets his family at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., Nov. 21, after returning from a seven-month deployment. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Terry Haynes III.

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