November 22, 2011
Posted by Joan V. Gallos
This week in the U.S., many gather with family and friends to give thanks for our many blessings.
In today’s rough-and-tumble work world, it can be easy to lose sight of things for which we can be thankful. The global economic downturn has made work and life tougher – no doubt about it. The bottom-line matters more when there is less margin for error. And everyone is being asked to do more with less.
Leaders can balance the strain with a conscious focus on positive sentiments, like hope, enjoyment, compassion, and thankfulness.
Health and wellness research consistently confirms the physiological benefits: immediate positive changes in heart rhythms, as well as neural, hormonal and biochemical reactions that drop blood pressure, muscle tension, and stress hormones. Scientists at UCLA found that optimism strengthened immune functioning. And, forgiveness – letting go of resentment for a perceived offense (including forgiving yourself for not being perfect or where you thought you’d be at this point in your life) – decreases blood pressure, cortisol, and other hormones associated with heart disease, immunity disorders, and more.
Feeling good helps you weather the storms you face – and make progress on things important to you.
Need a little help given where things are in your life? Try the following reasons to be thankful:
Take time and celebrate: Yes, 80 is the new fifty! U.S. Census figures have confirmed that the number of people living to age 90 and beyond has tripled in the past three decades and will quadruple by 2050. Stay healthy – and the odds are with you to have plenty of time to accomplish what you want to accomplish. Take pressure off yourself to have and do it all now, and celebrate where you are.
Let legendary pop singer Tony Bennett be your model. His new album "Duets II" – which is darn good, I might add – soared to No. 1 on the Billboard 200, a first for Bennett in his career and making him at 85 the oldest living act to reach No. 1. [Click on the album title and listen to a sample.]
Get moving and be smarter: The literature on exercise is conclusive: moderate amounts of regular aerobic exercise produce chemical changes that promote new brain cells in the part of the brain essential for learning and memory. Yahoo, positive news for aging brains! Anyone can get smarter!
Indulge and avoid guilt: Analysis of seven studies (with more than 100,000 subjects) found chocolate consumption associated with lower rates of stroke, coronary heart disease, blood pressure, and other cardiovascular conditions. The British Medical Journal reported chocolate eaters had decreases of 37% in risk of cardiovascular disorders and 29% in risk for stroke, but warned chocolate’s benefits come when eaten in moderation. A prescription to eat chocolate – thank you, doctor!
Relax and enjoy: NPR has a super series of Tiny Desk Concerts for a quick break in a long day. Last week they posted their best ever. Take a few minutes, click on the link, and enjoy. Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile And Stuart Duncan: Tiny Desk Concert Notice the musicians’ joy and passion for their work. May you find yours!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!