There is an old church hymn that says “count your blessings, name them one by one.” There are several benefits to doing this. It helps put your life in perspective and may also have some health benefits.
Researcher Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California says, “If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.”
Several studies have found that gratitude has a direct impact upon a person’s positive emotions such as happiness, pride and hope. Some researchers also believe that simply counting the things you are grateful for might be a treatment for mild forms of depression. WebMD says, “... Boost your health with a dose of gratitude. Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system.”
King Solomon must have understood this when he wrote in the Book of Proverbs that “a joyful heart is good medicine.” I agree with author Melody Beattie who wrote, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
Someone said that, “... an attitude of gratitude spreads like ripples from a tossed pebble, benefitting all it touches.”
Showing this attitude is not always easy. Too often the bad things stick in our memory more easily than the good. However, making a conscious choice to be thankful can have an amazingly positive effect upon one’s mental outlook. It also helps us remember that the hard times often make the good times sweeter.
In the face of the nation’s economic uncertainty, I have begun to focus on the things we often take for granted. I am thankful for a life shared with my wife, Sonya, and our children; good health; shelter from the cold; enough food; and fond memories of loved ones who will not be with me this Thanksgiving.
As mayor, I have also taken inventory of our community’s many blessings. It has given me a bright outlook for the future of Bradley County.
I am thankful that the economic downturn seems to be reversing itself more quickly in our region. I am grateful that the latest unemployment rate for Bradley County has dropped to 7.6 percent. I am thankful for a very broad industrial base which has kept our county’s unemployment rate below the state and national average. Companies like Whirlpool, Olin Chemical, Peyton’s Distribution Center, Johnston Coca-Cola, GE’s lighting distribution center, M&M Mars and many more are heavily invested in our community and I am thankful for their faith in Bradley County.
I am grateful that hundreds of county residents are now going to work each day at new jobs created by Amazon.com, Wacker and some existing local industries that have expanded in 2012. I join many other Bradley County residents in giving thanks for the Volkswagen plant which is providing jobs for many of our citizens just five minutes from our county line.
I am thankful for our two outstanding public school systems that are striving to provide this community with an educated workforce for potential industries interested in locating here. I am thankful for a wonderful quality of life, low taxes and hundreds of volunteers who work alongside city and county staff to plan and develop a community where people want to live and work.
This Thanksgiving, I challenge each one to change your focus from the things we don’t have and be thankful for what we do have. I also ask that you remember our troops and be thankful for their willingness to place themselves in harm’s way. They are dedicated to protecting our freedom, that we might enjoy this special day with family and friends.
On Thanksgiving Day and every day, let’s be reminded of how great it is to live in such a wonderful community as Cleveland, Charleston and Bradley County.
So as you carve the turkey on Thursday, don’t forget to serve up a big helping of gratitude. It’s very good for you … and has no calories.
My family and I wish you a happy, healthy and safe Thanksgiving.