“Because a thankful heart is a happy heart, I’m glad for what I have, that’s an easy way to start!” – Asparagus Jr. VeggieTales: Madame Blueberry
Maybe you grew up with the loveable little vegetable as he sang this song that helped him through disappointment (he didn’t get the toy he wanted at the toy store) or to express the gratitude he had about spending the day with his family and new friends in the park. This little song reminds me of some research on thankfulness and heart health . The story in short is that people who are more thankful have healthier hearts. There is also some research on how a “broken heart” can actually cause damage to your heart .
Thankfulness is good for your heart, it can help heal your heart; while emotional stress can damage your heart to the point of being fatal in extreme cases. So what’s the morale of the story? We need to learn to be thankful, even during difficult circumstances. Dr. Paul Mills in the original study recommended journaling as a means of generating thankfulness in your life.
Here’s how it can work in a hectic world:
• Create a note with your favorite app on your smart phone if you experience something that brings or increases your well-being add it to the list.
• If you are a more visual person, create an album for your pictures of things you are thankful for.
• You can share it through social media.
Now, recording your thankfulness is only half the battle. The old hymn recalls this in the chorus, “Count your blessings, name them one by one. Count your blessings, see what God has done.” You’ve got to bring to mind on a regular basis this sense of gratitude in order to truly experience the benefits. So follow up your recording with:
• Create a calendaring pop-up that reminds you to read through your thankfulness list. You can do it every day, but get into a weekly habit at least.
• Have your thankfulness album set as a rotating lock screen or wallpaper. As these go through you’ll have a constant reminder.
• Following up on your social media posts will provide this same reminder.
Now you have set about to be intentional with a spiritual practice that has physical benefits as well. You’ve connected it to the middle of your life, which makes it a lot easier to commit to and be successful with.
Here’s to your thankful and healthy heart.