This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.
November — a month containing both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving — is an ideal time to focus on feeling thankful. Concentrating on feelings of gratitude helps you feel happier and more positive in the short and long term.
“Multiple research studies have examined the benefits of a simple gratitude practice,” says Jennifer Smith, PhD, director of research at Mather Institute. The Institute is the research arm of Mather, a not-for-profit organization with three senior living communities that plans to open The Mather, a Life Plan Community for those 62 and better, in Tysons in 2024. The Institute is an award-winning resource for research and information about wellness, aging, trends in senior living and successful aging service innovations.
“Gratitude can help us feel more connected to others, increase positive emotions, and reduce negative thoughts,” says Dr. Smith. “And emphasizing the positive can create more positivity.”
The Gratitude-Happiness Link
Many studies have linked higher levels of gratitude to more happiness and satisfaction with life; in other words, it seems the more one feels gratitude, the happier and more satisfied one feels in general. One study that earned an Innovative Research on Aging Award from Mather Institute points out that older adults consistently report the highest levels of gratitude, compared to middle-age and younger adults. That link between level of gratitude and overall life satisfaction does not change with age, which means those over age 60 have a “happiness advantage” due to their high levels of gratitude.
The good news is that you can practice gratitude at any stage of life to actually improve your happiness, positivity and life satisfaction. One study showed that a regular habit such as daily journaling can enhance your long-term happiness by more than 10%.
Feelings of gratitude have also been shown to make us more resilient, boost optimism, increase self-esteem and reduce depressive symptoms. Focusing your attention on the positives rather than the negatives — which is what a gratitude practice does — can actually switch your outlook for the long term.
Physical Health Benefits
Feeling grateful also carries some physical benefits. It seems obvious that feeling optimistic and generally positive would impact one’s blood pressure, and research confirms this. A study of people with hypertension who were asked to practice gratitude at least once a week showed a “significant decrease” in their blood pressure. A similar study showed that practicing gratitude can improve quality of sleep.
Give Gratitude a Try
If you want to enjoy the benefits mentioned here, try to focus on feeling grateful at least three times a week, if not daily. Here are some examples of habits you might adopt:
- Gratitude journal: Whether you use a special notebook or scrap paper, take time every day or evening to list five things you feel grateful for. Ideally, you’ll save your lists so you can look back on them over time. Reviewing them will also increase your positive feelings.
- Thank-you notes: Write a note or email to someone who has had a positive impact on your life — whether it was a single action or a lifetime of support. Expressing your gratitude in writing gives you a chance to think more deeply about your thankfulness — and will make the recipient happy!
- Gratitude meditation: Take some quiet time to reflect on what you’re grateful for, then examine the feelings brought up when you identify those items, people or experiences. Focusing on what you value will bring moments of peace and joy.
- Share gratitude: Find a “gratitude buddy” — perhaps your spouse, child or a close friend — and take turns listing a few things you are grateful for. This adds extra depth to gratitude, as you can build off of each other’s comments.
- Take a gratitude walk: Take a stroll and look for positive things — from the walkability of your neighborhood to appealing sights and friendly people.
Whether you’re a natural pessimist or an optimist, try a regular gratitude practice. It will improve your outlook right away, and could result in lifelong benefits.
The Mather, projected to open in Tysons, VA, in 2024 for those 62 and better, is a forward-thinking Life Plan Community that defies expectations of what senior living is supposed to be.
Good Friday evening! Today we published 8 articles that were read a total of 10957 times on FFXnow alone, so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles…
A 17-year veteran of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing drugs stored at two stations for her personal use, police announced today (Friday)….
A total of six new Capital Bikeshare stations may soon arrive around the Innovation Center Metro station. The Fairfax County Department of Transportation will host a meeting this coming Wednesday…
Tysons Corner Center can move forward with new plans for its next phase of development. After a public hearing on Tuesday (Sept. 26), the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved…
Public invited: “Fur-th Birthday” brunch celebration for Woofie’s of South Riding-Aldie, Sunday, October 8 at The Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
Woofie’s of South Riding-Aldie, providing premium mobile pet services throughout Aldie, Middleburg, South Riding is celebrating its fourth anniversary with expansion to Centreville and Chantilly and its fourth Woofie’s pet grooming van. The franchise, owned and operated by Loudoun County residents, husband/wife team Sebaot Gebre and Teferi Dejene, has grown by 900% since its first full year in business.
• Mobile pet spa grooming
• Dog walking
• Pet sitting
• In-home or overnight pet sitting
• Customizable services
If you have been thinking about buying your first home or haven’t owned one in the last three years, THIS IS FOR YOU!
In the DMV area, it can be difficult to save the downpayment necessary for you to get into your own home. We have a solution. The Funder’s Summit!
We have assembled a summit with different municipalities to tell you how to access their funds for your home purchase.
We invite you to join us at STEAMOLOGY’s annual FREE STEM Fest for elementary and middle school students, taking place on Saturday, October 14th at South County High School, 8501 Silverbrook Rd, Lorton, VA 22079.
STEM Fest is an exciting