The health benefits of being grateful

Every once in a while you see an article with great practical advice, and this is one of them. I wanted to share with M* readers because this article really cheered me up. Yes, even in our sometimes dark times there is good news, and here it is: being grateful is likely to improve your health. Read on:

Gratitude is a simple practice that can have profound effects on your health and well-being. Positive effects linked to gratitude include social, psychological, and physical benefits, which increase the more you make gratitude a regular part of your daily routine.

“The limits to gratitude’s health benefits are really in how much you pay attention to feeling and practicing gratitude,” said neuroscientist Glenn Fox, a gratitude expert at the University of Southern California. “It’s very similar to working out, in that the more you practice, the better you get. The more you practice, the easier it is to feel grateful when you need it.”

….

Fox grew deeply interested in gratitude after his mother’s death from ovarian cancer. During her illness, he would send her studies on the benefits of gratitude in cancer patients, and she kept a gratitude journal in her final years.

In one example, 92 adults with advanced cancer engaged in mindful gratitude journaling or routine journaling. After seven days, those who kept a gratitude journal had significant improvements in measures of anxiety, depression, and spiritual well-being, so much so that the researchers concluded that “mindful gratitude journaling could positively affect the state of suffering, psychological distress, and quality of life of patients with advanced cancer.”

“Grateful people tend to recover faster from trauma and injury,” Fox told The Pulse. “They tend to have better and closer personal relationships and may even just have improved health overall.”

As it turns out, putting your gratitude in words can be an effective way to improve your mental health. Among 293 adults who sought psychotherapy services, those who engaged in gratitude writing reported significantly better mental health after four and 12 weeks than those who didn’t write or who wrote about their thoughts and feelings.

Modern-day prophets have told us this hundreds of times, of course. This is one of my favorite talks on gratitude:

Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence. “Live in thanksgiving daily,” said Amulek, “for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.”4

There you have it. There are practical and spiritual benefits to gratitude, and the more often we express them out loud the more we will take advantage of the benefits. This is such an important lesson for our times.

Mass hypnosis and the COVID cult

It can be frustrating trying to reach the people who have fallen for the propaganda and fear porn of the COVID cult. But each of us might know one or two people who can be reached and awakened from their deep sleep. I have personally awakened a few dozen people over the last 18 months, and I will continue to do my best to help others. As this video points out, some people have breaking points, such as when the schools force 10-year-olds to get a vaccination they don’t need or when a person gets fired from his or her job because of their private medical decisions. Let’s work with them to help them out of their hypnosis. The first step may be showing them this video by the inventor of mRNA technology. It’s worth a try.

In the Dark Streets Shineth

Happy first Sunday of Advent!

I know we don’t formally celebrate Advent in the LDS Church, but we all need some more Jesus in our lives right now. We all need to see the light thru the darkness we seem to be wandering in right now.

The story of the beloved Christmas hymn, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” as told by David McCullough and the Tabernacle Choir.

Yes, some conspiracy theories are real

This post makes a simple argument, which I want to make clear from the beginning: some — NOT ALL — conspiracy theories are real. There really are conspiracies in which people conspire to get money and power and sometimes even commit murder as part of the conspiracy.

This does not mean that EVERY claim of a conspiracy theory is true. In fact, you could safely argue that most conspiracy theories are not true. Just to cite one example, I don’t buy that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” perpetrated by the U.S. government. I have looked at the evidence, and it just doesn’t seem likely to me.

The reason I am writing this post is that I hear smart people, both inside the Church and out, dismiss something as a “conspiracy theory” as if that ends the argument. That is simply an ad hominem claim and a logical fallacy. And the problem is that many people dismiss “conspiracy theories” that don’t fit their paradigms without ever considering the evidence. This is a dangerous tendency and completely against Latter-day Saint — and indeed all Christian — orthodoxy.

The central event in Christian history was the Atonement. In a worldly sense, the Atonement was the result of a conspiracy by the leading religious authorities in Jerusalem who conspired to kill an innocent man to protect their power. The entire thing was a classic secret combination.

Of course Latter-day Saint scriptures point out that secret combinations have been around since the days of Abel and Cain. Moses 5:51: “For, from the days of Cain, there was a secret combination, and their works were in the dark, and they knew every man his brother.”

The secret combinations continued in every society: “And they did reject all the words of the prophets, because of their secret society and wicked abominations.” (Ether 11:22) “For behold, they murdered all the prophets of the Lord who came among them to declare unto them concerning their iniquities; and the blood of those whom they murdered did cry unto the Lord their God for vengeance upon those who were their murderers; and thus the judgments of God did come upon these workers of darkness and secret combinations.” (Alma 37:30) “And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.” (2 Nephi 9:9).

I am going to make this very clear: it is impossible to honestly read LDS scriptures without coming to the conclusion that secret combinations (ie conspiracies) 1)happen throughout history 2)are inspired by Satan 3)are more pervasive than we think and 4)are going to be common in the Latter days.

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Would you be the one shouting to crucify the Savior?

In 1951, a psychologist named Solomon Asch performed a conformity test to study how willing people are to go along with the crowd, even when they know the crowd is wrong.

Students were told they were part of a “vision test.” Prof. Asch put one naive participant in a room with seven confederates who were in league with the professor. The confederates had agreed in advance how to answer the question in the vision test. The participants were asked to compare the length of lines, in which it was obvious that there was only one correct answer. But the seven confederates would insist on incorrect answers, and in some cases 75 percent of the naive participants would agree to go along with the crowd in giving an incorrect answer even though they knew it was wrong.

To be “Asch negative,” you need to be the type of person willing to go against the crowd, often at the cost of being publicly embarrassed. You must be strong enough in your convictions that you will not be influenced by peer pressure.

In short, you would have to be the type of person not to abandon the Savior in His moment of public humiliation or to abandon Joseph Smith when most people in society hated him.

Most people reading this are saying to themselves that they would never bow to peer pressure, but you may want to consider the story of Peter denying the Savior three times. The reality is that we all are more likely to influenced by peer pressure than we think.

The French philosopher Rene Girard has considered this issue in depth and written extensively on the unfortunate historical tendency of people to engage in witch hunts. Girard sees the Atonement of Christ example of a classic witch hunt in which the leadership of a society used Jesus as a scapegoat for all of their problems. The Pharisees succeeded in stirring up the crowd against Jesus, even though there is no evidence he did anything wrong.

Girard’s point is that this happens in societies all of the time. For a variety of reasons, leaders afraid of losing power often try to find scapegoats to blame for societal ills. Most readers can see how this applied historically to the Jews, who have blamed for societal problems in Spain, Russia, Germany, Eastern Europe and just about everywhere else they lived in the diaspora.

Girard, if he were alive today, would not be surprised by the rise of cancel culture, which he described throughout history. Social media has made cancel culture one of the most prominent features of modern life.

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