by Sheva Carr, Founder of Fyera

It is that time of year when we get ready to eat too much. And then feel guilty for it.

Do holiday guilt and obligation ever eat at you for their Thanksgiving feasts?

I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the Thanksgiving feasts I’ve sat at where gratitude is replaced with guilt- for eating too much, and for feeling irritated by the abundance of food in front of me when I know there are “starving children in the world.” How do we reconcile and appreciate our abundance in a world so desperately out of balance?

This year I started pondering the season’s attitude- gratitude- from a new perspective. Did it ever occur to you that calling the holiday “Thanksgiving” implies that gratitude itself might be a gift? Maybe even to those starving children in Africa and Nicaragua?

“Yes,” says new research, on the power of gratitude and appreciation, from the Institute of HeartMath®. Yes, gratitude is good for us, and our gratitude itself is good for the world around us.

It turns out that when we are in a state of appreciation, something unique happens to our heartbeats. They begin to drum in an orderly, harmonious rhythm. And because the heart is holding the baseline beat for the body’s entire orchestra, 1400 other things happen in our physiology when our heart rhythms change. Prolonged states of gratitude, with the ordered heart rhythms they produce, have been proven to:

  • Boost immunity
  • Increase the production of the feel good fountain of youth hormone DHEA
  • Increase longevity
  • Reduce mortality
  • Improve brain function
  • Improve memory
  • Enhance decision making and reaction times
  • Increase creativity and innovative problem solving
  • Improve job performance and achievement
  • Lower the risk of major diseases including heart disease, diabetes, alzheimers, cancer, osteoporosis, and more
  • Reduce fat around waist and thighs

Yes! It’s true!  Concerned about holiday weight gain?

You’ll love this- ordered heart rhythms and the DHEA that ensues from states of gratitude actually cause weight loss around the hips and thighs!

So being grateful for that extra piece of pumpkin pie is a better weight management strategy than depriving yourself out of guilt and self judgment! When we feel guilt, or other forms of emotional stress, it actually triggers a disordered rhythm in the heart, leading to another set of over 1400 physiological changes in the body including the release of the stress hormone cortisol. Excess levels of cortisol are present in:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Hypertension
  • Accelerated aging
  • Reduced skin elasticity
  • Brain cell death
  • Compromised immunity
  • Excess fat around waist and thighs
  • And more

    Clearly, when we are in a state of thanksgiving, we are really getting- a lot. We are getting health, and youth, and vitality, improved performance and clear thinking. I have a whole business based around teaching people how to get the health and performance benefits of giving thanks through the heart. We even created a word for that special state of being in appreciation, and all the benefits we get from it- “Fyera!” But the holiday is not called “Thanksgetting.” So where does the giving come in?

    Research on the heart shows that an average person’s heart rhythm (one who is not even in an ordered state of gratitude!) can be detected more than eight feet beyond their body.  We all know this intuitively, because we’ve all experienced someone with a “contagious” mood. One person may walk into a room, and light everyone up with enthusiasm and inspiration. While another person may enter that same room and bring everyone down. Did you ever notice that people who light up a room tend to leave a trail of gratitude behind them? It’s their appreciation that has such a potent impact on us. Their gratitude produces an ordered heart frequency that literally impacts other hearts they come near.  This means that when you are in a state of gratitude, you are literally a source of more order in the world.

    All of the benefits of gratitude, from increased immunity to enhanced brain function, can be paid forward to those around us when we radiate our state of appreciation and ordered heart rhythms. One Nicaraguan street child appreciated me so much, that it inspired me to start a non-profit organization for other street children now serving hundreds of kids. Don’t underestimate the powerful potential of your appreciation to change the world!

    Giving thanks has ripple effects that cannot help but give back and give beyond. If you catch yourself slipping into self judgment, obligation, resentment, and other holiday treasons with justified reason this season, make that extra effort to shift your attention to something to appreciate- even if it’s just for your own health! Celebrate Thanksgiving guilt free this year, knowing that giving thanks is giving back.

    The nice thing about the physical benefit of gratitude is that it doesn’t matter WHAT you are grateful for. It can be super small stuff. Your body does not know the difference between gratitude for winning the Nobel Prize, or gratitude for a great pedicure. As long as you are grateful from the heart, the benefits come. This is good news, because gratitude is not always easy (at least for me) to access. But I know it is worth it, because even the little things I appreciate have big pay-offs for my health, well being, and ability to contribute. You can always find something to be grateful for- like your favorite piece of fruit, or the fact that you can walk and wiggle your toes when others have lost that luxury.

    Take a moment right now to connect with someone you appreciate. It might be a mentor, or a best friend, or pet (my own cat, sitting on my lap while I tap at the keyboard, started licking my fingers as I typed that last bit…Appreciation works!). What qualities do you appreciate about that person or furry friend? How does your body feel when you appreciate them? What happens to your ability to think? See what happens to them if you radiate your gratitude their way. It’s a fun experiment that can reveal that giving thanks truly is a gift.

    In 15 years of psychological research, Martin Seligman (head of the American Psychology Association) found only one thing that actually increased people’s happiness. It was not Prozac. It was not the right career, or finding Mr. Right. It was the simple act of writing a gratitude list at the end of every day.

    Try writing a “gratitude list” at the end of every day, between now and the holiday. Then watch the magic that gratitude creates in your life! Feeling good is not only good for you- it’s good for the world. That’s why our tag line at Fyera!, where we teach people to generate that feel good anywhere anytime is “Making a difference…in heartbeat!”

    With all that giving thanks gives back, to us and to our world, it might not be a bad idea to make every day a day to give thanks.

This Thanksgiving HeartStart call has been recorded and is available now via phone until Nov. 26 at 5:00pm Pacific Time at:
Free Conference Play Back, Playback Number: (641) 985-5108

After Nov. 26, download it free anytime at

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