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Practicing Gratitude Improves the Attitude

November 29, 2013

HELENA, Mont. – Gratitude can change your attitude, and maybe even your health.

With the season of giving and thankfulness underway, Wickes MacColl, a strengthening families educator, points to research that shows people who practice gratefulness are better off physically and mentally.

"We have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, we sleep longer and feel better,” she says. “We're more alert, alive and full of joy. Socially, we're more helpful and generous."

MacColl says gratefulness is also something that has to be taught to children.

She adds practicing gratefulness is more than saying thank you. She says it needs to be a daily reflection, and it can be as simple as counting your blessings each night, or starting the day by making a list of people, places or things that you are looking forward to seeing.

MacColl stresses that practicing gratitude is an ideal family activity.

"We can make gratitude lists,” she explains. “What are we thankful that we have? Then you can do it in A-B-C order. Let's start around the table with an A. Somebody might say, 'I'm able to eat.’”

MacColl says some families decorate a gratefulness jar – and fill it with loose change at the end of each day, while expressing appreciation for something that happened that day. Every month, the change is counted up and donated or used for family fun.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT