Next week people in the United States will celebrate a holiday devoted to giving thanks; a day of gratefulness. While gratitude belongs on the menu every day, it’s still a wonderful thing that we can slow down, gather with family and/or friends and devote a day to the idea of thankfulness.
The benefits of gratitude are many, and their effects are far-reaching. Research in a growing segment of science is beginning to document the positive impact of gratitude. Among the benefits are increased mental alertness, better physical health, an increased sense of well-being, and increased optimism. In addition, a sense of gratitude can decrease feelings of envy, materialism and self-centeredness. It has also been shown that keeping a gratitude journal is as effective in treating depression for many people as taking anti-depressant medications.
I find it so interesting that our national day of gratitude is quickly followed by Black Friday. In fact, retailers are opening their stores earlier and earlier in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, and in some instances earlier still, cutting into Thanksgiving itself, by opening the evening before.
This kind of consumerism and materialistic crush for attaining…uh, things is essentially the opposite of gratitude. Camping out on some big box retailer’s doorstep, fighting crowds for a limited supply of door buster deals, and cutting short your Thanksgiving traditions for the sake of acquiring more junk is the antithesis of thankfulness.
And it’s the stuff of illness in Chinese medicine. What…what? How can shopping on Black Friday make you sick? Truthfully, just one shopping trip can’t really hurt you unless you get elbowed fighting over some sale item. But it’s a symptom of something greater. Let me explain.
According to the Chinese, unfulfilled desires and dissatisfaction ultimately impact your health in a negative way. When what you have in life is very different from what you want, your risk for illness is high. Remember, in Chinese medicine the mind and the body are all the same thing. So after months or years of wanting and frustration and dissatisfaction, those emotions begin to manifest in physical ways. Some of the most common symptoms that this is happening include insomnia, feeling hot and thirsty, irritability, restlessness, depression, craving sweets, digestive issues, feeling a lump in your throat, pain under your ribs, and muscle tension or pain.
Acupuncture can help people with these symptoms, but unless the source of frustration is alleviated, the symptoms are likely to come back. That’s where gratitude comes in. Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, spend some time on a daily basis in a mental place of gratitude. Focus on the sweet things in life. You’ll feel better in so many ways and your body will be grateful.