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Gratitude’s effect on Mental Health

November 17, 2021

Thanksgiving has been a widely celebrated American holiday since 1863, when President Lincoln declared it a nationally recognized holiday meant to fall on the last Thursday in the month of November. In the beginning, the holiday was meant to express gratitude for the year’s harvest and blessings and has since evolved into a holiday to express gratitude for the small things. What is the significance of recognizing the joy in the world around you?

“Thanksgiving, more than anything, is what really saved my life,” Chandler Kinsley, a Davis graduate expresses, “[It] was what really woke me up, realizing how blessed I am and how much I should be grateful for that is so easy to belittle.”

Expressing gratitude is an interesting concept; how much, in modern day, does the average person take for granted in the world around them?

In Kaysville Utah, many of our families are blessed with clean drinking water, heated homes, food on demand in grocery stores and local eating locations. Each of these things are largely expected for members of a first world country, but are, in reality, luxuries that we take for grated every day.

“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness,” a report from health division of Harvard explains, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

While thanksgiving is largely recognized as a holiday to gather with loved ones and eat a large, warm meal, research suggests that if we take the time to recognize the positives of the world around us, we will be granted a higher level of happiness, which is without doubt needed in Utah.

In Utah, suicide is the number one cause of death in the 10–24-year age demographic. Its ranks sixth highest in the rate of suicide deaths in the country (divided by state), and ranked fourth highest in regions of major depression in the united states, according to Utah’s IBIS and the World Population Review.

Perhaps with this season’s holiday, as opposed to focusing on the gathering of loved ones and the sharing of food, we should focus on all the small things there are to be thankful for. With increased gratitude, maybe a slight break could be made in the low mental health in the state of Utah.

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