Consider This

. . .promotes mental health

At a conference on an idyllic island off the coast of Georgia last summer, Kathy Muscari had a momentary panic when she realized she forgot her power-point presentation for a keynote address on gratitude. With little choice, and as a seasoned speaker, Muscari forged ahead. She joked and referred to what she could do, not what she could not do. And what she could do, what she did do, was deliver an inspiring talk to those attending the annual meeting of the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network. No wonder she has been regarded among the leaders in the peer-consumer movement for the past 20 years. Easily she connected to the audience, and in the process quoted research studies, drew on her personal experience, and explained why gratitude is more than just a quality of personality.

Gratitude has often been discussed as a virtue, something that accompanies character. It seems that this is only a partial understanding. For the past decade psychologists have been studying the health benefits of gratefulness which includes reducing stress and enhancing the immune system. Recent discussions about neuroplasticity address whether the brain can actually be retrained, thereby releasing some of the concomitant well-being. Some mental health advocates recommend including gratitude in WRAP plans.

In this holiday season where people traditionally count their blessings, Muscari's remarks resonate. (They have been edited for length.)

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