By BRENT MARTIN
St. Joseph Post
We sometimes rush past Thanksgiving on our way to the Christmas shopping season.
We shouldn’t, according to a Missouri Western State University psychology professor.
Christine Ziemer says it’s important to pause and reflect on all that we have to be grateful for.
“I think especially at this time of year, where we’re really focusing on the next holiday of Christmas coming up. Right after Thanksgiving we have Black Friday and a lot of people are thinking about what they’re going to buy and what they’re going to get for presents for people or for themselves,” Ziemer tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. “It’s nice to take a moment and just be grateful for what you already have.”
Ziemer teaches a Transpersonal Psychology class in which she encourages students to keep a gratitude journal, in which students record even small things for which they are grateful.
“Over time just noticing those small things are going to slowly shift the way that you’re thinking, the way that you’re observing the world and what you’re focused on,” according to Ziemer. “And so, you can focus on all the things that are wrong and that you wish were different or you can start to train yourself to focus at least as much if not more on the positive aspects and the things you’re grateful for.”
Ziemer says practicing thanksgiving for even the little things can make a big difference.
“It gives you a really positive outlook on your life when you start to realize the richness in all of the beautiful things that you already have that you can be grateful for in each day,” Ziemer says.
Ziemer encourages her students to write about those things in their lives in which they can be grateful.
“The people that wrote the gratitude entries were having healthier practices as far as exercising more, they were going to the hospital less, they had less illness over the course of the 10 weeks than the group that was focusing on negative aspects of their life.”
Ziemer says when we are thankful for the good things in our lives, it reduces stress and often leads to other healthy practices, such as eating better and exercising.