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Consider the old expression “Is your glass half full or half empty?” It really can be very telling as a general litmus test for your worldview. Along the same lines, ask yourself do you have an “attitude of gratitude”? Of course all of us experience and express gratitude at times throughout our days and years -- holidays, birthdays, etc… but striving to have an “attitude of gratitude” every day takes effort.

It is an effort that is well worth it according to some extensive recent studies. In an article on Goodnet.org, "5 Scientific Facts That Prove Gratitude Is Good For You", it claimed that living a daily life focused on gratitude reduces depressive symptoms, boosts romantic relationships, creates lasting effects on general optimism and happiness and can increase self confidence and trust in working relationships.

Paul Mills, a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University Of California San Diego School Of Medicine, studied the role of gratitude on heart health. In his study, one of the things he found was that participants who kept a gratitude journal most days of the week, had reduced levels of inflammation and improved heart rhythm compared to people who did not write in a journal. The study also showed the decreased risk of heart disease was realized after only two months of applying this to their routines!

Researchers at Eastern Washington University found there are four primary characteristics of grateful people. People who experience and express the most gratitude (and as such benefit from the positive effects) tend to: feel abundance in their lives, appreciate others contributions in their life, recognize and enjoy the small pleasures in life and know the importance of experiencing and expressing gratitude. It sounds like the benefits outweigh any of the potential effort it might take!

So how do we live and develop an ongoing “attitude of gratitude”? According to New York Times best-selling author Lewis Howes in his book The School of Greatness, he states, “If you concentrate on what you have, you’ll always have more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.” There are many schools of thought on how to accomplish this, but in general, an attitude of gratitude means habitually and regularly expressing thankfulness and appreciation, in all parts of your life, for both the big and small things.

Why not give it a try? Here is a gratitude suggestion to get you started today: The Telecare Program at the LifeSpan Center! Telecare provides information and assistance to anyone aged 60 and older with Medicare, Social Security, Illinois Benefit Access, Property Tax Exemptions and much more. Contact Telecare at 217-639-5166 to schedule an appointment.

Now a final thought to consider as you begin your new “attitude of gratitude” journey, Abraham Lincoln is quoted to have said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”.

The Coles County Council on Aging offices are located at the LifeSpan Center, 11021 E. Co. Rd. 800 N., Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150 for the Coles County Council on Aging and LifeSpan Center. Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.”

Peace Meals, sponsored by Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, call 217-348-1800.

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