Saturday, November 28, 2009

Give thanks........

My friend, Arun, sent me this email at an appropriate time of thanksgiving throughout the world. In Canada, I was always invited to a Canadian home for a Thanksgiving dinner, where we would gather for a time of thanksgiving to God for everything. I am so grateful for the hospitality of my Canadian friends who always try to make us foreign students feel at home in their country.

The article reads, "Saying "Thank You" is good for the health.

"ST. PETERSBURG , Fla. - Bill Golden survived more than 20 years in the Army and another 30 in law enforcement. He fell sick with colon cancer, and at 86, he has an artificial hip and arthritis in his knees.

Golden still gives thanks, though, and researchers say that appreciative attitude can be good for you, too.

Academics have long theorized that expressions of thanks promote health and happiness and give optimism and energy to the downtrodden. Now, the study of gratitude has become a surprisingly burgeoning field, and research indicates being thankful might help people actually feel better. There’s a catch, however: You have to say thanks more than just once a year.

“If you don’t do it regularly you’re not going to get the benefits,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California , Riverside . “It’s kind of like if you went to the gym once a year. What would be the good of that?”

In recent years, researchers have tried to measure the benefits of gratitude. In a National Science Foundation-funded study, Northeastern University psychologist David DeSteno had participants complete an arduous data entry task only to have it lost by computer malfunction. Then, a lab assistant, seemingly unconnected to the study and claiming to be in a hurry for their own experiment, restores the lost work.

The participant is dismissed, and bumps into the lab assistant, who asks for help. DeSteno found those who had been helped by the assistant, and were grateful for it, were more likely to return the favor, and did so for longer than those in a group not helped.

“Gratitude leads people to act in virtuous or more selfless ways,” said DeSteno, whose research was published earlier this year in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science. “And it builds social support, which we know is tied to both physical and psychological well being.”

Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California , Davis , said those who offer gratitude are less envious and resentful. They sleep longer, exercise more and report a drop in blood pressure, said Emmons, who wrote “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”

Brenda Shoshanna, a New York psychologist, agreed.

“You can’t be depressed and grateful at the same time,” said Shoshanna, the author of “365 Ways to Give Thanks: One for Every Day of the Year.” “It makes a person physically, mentally, in every way healthier.”

As for Golden, he doesn’t pay much attention to the academics. He simply acknowledges he’s “one lucky dude,” grateful for his two children, two grandchildren, and his 89-year-old girlfriend.

So on Thursday, he and his family will gather around the table, hold hands and say thank you.

“It’s surprising what those two little words do for a person,” he said. “It’s easy to say and it does a lot of good.”

Every morning, when I get up, I would greet PAPA and thank him for all the things that had taken place the day before, including troubles and problems, and thank him for all the food I am going to consume during the day, and for the people and animals I will meet along my way.

It is true that thanksgiving puts me in the right perspective - the realisation that I am so small and insignificant in this huge universe, and that the line between life and death is so thin, and that we are all indeed living by grace, and grace alone. Consider the lady who suddenly lost her baby, her limbs and eventually her job as a nurse, all within a matter of a few weeks! Life is that fragile!

Hence, let us not take things for granted, but to relish even the mundane things lest they be taken away from us. So that when trouble comes, we will be even stronger to stay thankful and cheerful, and continue to trust in the Creator.

As someone has beautifully put it in a poem:-

Count your blessings instead of your crosses;
Count your gains instead of your losses;
Count your joys instead of your woes;
Count your friends instead of your foes;
Count your smiles instead of your tears;
Count your courage instead of your fears;
Count your full years instead of your lean;
Count your kind deeds instead of your mean;
Count your health instead of your wealth;
Count on God instead of yourself.

I remember my tenant, Chung Hsien once asked me, "Aunty Choo, every morning, I hear you singing and praising God. God won't get tired, meh?"

I laughed, and asked him, "Next time when you have children, and your daughters keep saying, "Papa, you're our most wonderful daddy, you're so great and we love you so ooooooo much!" will you ever get tired?

Chung Hsien shook his head. "The same with God! He loves to hear our praises and He dwells in a loving relationship with His children".

I have learnt many years ago, that in my work as a real estate agent, "Unless the Lord builds, I build in vain; Unless the Lord watches the city, the watchman watches in vain."

In everything, I can only do my best, and leave God to do the rest. Only then can I relax and not strive, stay cheerful and optimistic throughout the day.

Gan Chau

1 comment:

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