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November 2012 – Focus on what is TRUE and worthy of PRAISE
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November 2012 – Focus on what is TRUE and worthy of PRAISE, cultivating FORGIVENESS and a spirit of GRATITUDE
 
FACT:  Forgiveness helps us to live longer.  After analyzing data from the Religion, Aging and Health Survey of over 1200 people over the age of 25, researchers found that an attitude of forgiveness towards others is associated with a decreased risk for all-cause mortality.

HOPE: Nearly everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of another.  But in holding grudges, we may be the one who pays most dearly in higher levels of anxiety, hypertension, depression, substance abuse and more. On the other hand, “forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31) will lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

 
FACT:  Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families.  Researchers studied 221 early adolescents and randomly assigned them to make a daily list of either five things they were grateful for or five hassles that occurred in their life over a period of two weeks.  Those who counted blessings had higher self-reported gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction, and decreased negative affect, and satisfaction with school experience.

HOPE:  Colossians 2:7 encourages us to "overflow with thankfulness." Cultivate gratitude in your family by creating an ongoing gratitude list together, sharing positive experiences at mealtimes or during commutes, and sending thank-you notes to people whose kindness you appreciate. 

 
FACT: Americans average about 11 lies per week. Recently, University of Notre Dame Researches conducted an experiment to find out if living more honestly can actually cause better health.  They asked people to stop telling lies for ten weeks. In that time, the participants’ physical and mental health improved—and they said their relationships and social interactions were better.

HOPE:   Philippians 4:8 (NIV) reminds us that “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  More than a principle to live by, the verse actually helps you live healthier.

 
FACT:   Writing letters of gratitude not only benefits the receiver, but research shows that it also benefits the author’s well-being. Participants included 219 men and women who wrote three letters of gratitude over a three-week period. Results indicated that writing letters of gratitude increased participants’ happiness and life satisfaction, while decreasing depressive symptoms. 

HOPE:  The apostle Paul is a great example of writing letters of gratitude. “I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership” (Philippians 1:3-5). Who could you write a letter of gratitude to today? You’ll both be blessed.
 
References:
  • Toussaint, L., Owen, A. & Cheadle, A. (2012). Forgive to live: Forgiveness, health, and longevity. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 35(4), 375-86.
  • Froh, J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. A. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: An experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being.  Journal of School  Psychology, 46, 213-233.
  • Guibert, S. (2012, August 4). Study: Telling fewer lies linked to better health and relationships. Notre Dame News, University of Notre Dame. Retrieved November 3, 2012, from http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/32424-study-telling-fewer-lies-linked-to-better-health-relationships/.
  • Toepfer, S. M., Cichy, K. & Peters, P. (2011). Letters of gratitude: Further evidence for author benefits. Journal of Happiness Studies 13(1), 187-201. DOI: 10.1007/s10902-011-9257-7
 

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