Happy Healthy Gorham Co-Director

What does every one of us in Gorham have in common? We all want to be happy and healthy. How can we improve both? Try practicing gratitude. Gratitude researcher and guru, Robert Emmons defines gratitude as “an affirmation of goodness.” Gratitude brings us happiness, feelings of optimism, joy and pleasure. Gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression. Gratitude is like a free super drug! Practicing gratitude has been proven to help people sleep better, make us more resilient, better able to recover from traumatic events, and strengthen our immune systems.

Practicing gratitude is just cultivating your response to wonderful things around us each and every day. The opportunities to practice are everywhere. Pause to appreciate an especially beautifully colored evening sky, the sparkle of icy tree branches in the bright sun, a sweet smile on a child’s face, paved roads and schools, friends and family, or…be grateful for running water and electricity at the flip of a switch or turn of a knob.

Last May, a community based health initiative to make Gorham ‘The Happiest and Healthiest Town in Maine’ was launched with four, weeklong themes: Moving Naturally, Kindling Kindness, Growing Gratitude, and Eating Well. Happy Healthy Gorham will be celebrating the power of Gratitude, the third theme, during the week of February 25 – March 3 with a series of two activities:

We will be welcoming Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of Psychology at University of California Davis, and perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, to Gorham. Robert Emmons is also a 1980 graduate of USM.

We will be encouraging residents to create ‘Maine’s Largest Gratitude Art Installation’ near Baxter Library by tying ‘gratitude ribbons’ along the walkway from South Street towards the library.

Try making gratitude a new habit, write down ten things you are grateful for everyday for one month. Start a gratitude journal, taking a few minutes every day to write a few things you are thankful for. Share gratitude this week by letting someone know how grateful you are for them in your life, or write a note to someone in your past to thank them for something they did that made a difference, big or small. Appreciate what others do for you, and share that appreciation.

An ancient Jewish legend says that the world will only be complete when everyone can identify one hundred blessings in their lives each day. Those who rate themselves as having a grateful disposition often feel more loving, forgiving and joyful. Be generous with gratitude for it is contagious.

Look in the next edition of the Gorham Times for more information about Emmons’ upcoming discussions in Gorham on Feb 28 and March 1. Visit our Facebook page or our website to learn more about Gratitude week.