In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

December 1, 2015

Give the Gift of Gratitude

By In the Loop

Discover that gratitude actually helps us recover more quickly from adversity.Don't look now, but today is Dec. 1, and the holiday season is upon us. This year, instead of making a last-minute dash to the hardware store, convenience store or car wash (wish you were on Cory's gift list?), why not give those you love something totally out of the box (so to speak). Give the gift of gratitude. According to Joseph Sirven, M.D., chair of Neurology at Mayo Clinic's Arizona campus, it's a gift that just might lower stress and improve health — for everyone involved.

In one of his regular radio segments for Arizona's KJZZ 91.5 FM, Dr. Sirven recently shared a story that illustrates just how powerful gratitude can be. He told listeners about a patient who, along with his family, thanked him in a unique and meaningful way after a surgical procedure. The patient "stood up to leave and said, 'Doc, do you mind if I give you a hug, because saying thank you just doesn't seem enough?'" Dr. Sirven recounts. "Before I could respond, this seven foot giant of a man gave me — a height-challenged doctor — a bear hug which was sequentially joined in by his wife and his toddler who gently tugged on my pant leg." It was an emotional embrace that Dr. Sirven says is now "etched in my memory as one of the highlights of my career."

Showing gratitude does more than just make us feel good, Dr. Sirven says. "Research on gratefulness has shown numerous psychological and physical benefits for both the recipient and provider, including improved pain tolerance, better sleep, lower blood pressure, less depression and increased longevity," he says. And while it's true that simply showing gratitude or appreciation for others "will not cure all ills," Dr. Sirven says it can help us "cope with chronic illness and everyday stress."

Mayo's Amit Sood, M.D., has also been making the case for gratitude. In a recent video, Dr. Sood says that regardless of where you fall within the five levels of gratitude — from being "impossible to please" to having been "transformed" by gratitude — there's always room to grow. "Consider dipping deeper in your gratitude practice," he says. "Can you feel grateful today for something simple and ordinary, such as a glass of clean water? Or your ability to walk?"

Dr. Sood says that by paying special attention to being grateful, over time, you might just find yourself among those "rare few" so "transformed" by gratitude that you can feel grateful even in adversity. It's when we get to that point, Dr. Sood says, that we begin to discover that gratitude actually helps us "recover more quickly" from adversity. And that, he says, is "the hallmark of resilience."

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Tags: Dr. Amit Sood, Dr. Joseph Sirven, Staff Stories

The ‘attitude of gratitude’ – I am sure we have all become familiar with this addage. As you say, not only is the transformative power evident in the expression, but also in the receiving of gratitude. However small and seemingly insignificant it may be – it really defies all laws of nature; I would encourage you to adopt an active role in seeking opportunities every single day to express gratitude. The benefits far outweigh the risks!


I know that myself, and my family, are eternally grateful for Dr. Joseph Dearani and his whole team for saving my son. Without each and every person, my son would not be here today. ‘Thank you’ will never be enough for us. There is nothing I could do, or give, that could truly express my gratitude. All I can do is spread the word, and give recognition to this team whenever the opportunity arises. So, to the CICU of Mayo in MN, all that work with children on Mary Brigh 5B, to Rhonda Brincks, and especially to Dr. Dearani… Thank you! Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication to the Ebstein’s Anomaly family. As a result of your countless hours, days, months, and years of sweat-grueling, heartbreaking work, my son is here today. Every time he tried to die, you all intervened. Not only did he survive, but he is now thriving. You didn’t just buy him more time, you gifted him a life that has quality to it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Love, The Davies Family


To have had the same primary care Doctor for almost 30 years now has filled me with gratitude beyond words. The most kind,compassionate, capable Doctor I have ever had, I don’t know if I can ever repay in any form all the great care he has provided me. He knows all my medical problems backwards , forwards and sideways. He defines what a great Doctor should be. Without his advice and help, I wouldn’t be doing as well as I have all these years. Thanks always, Dr. H. Schultz, your forever grateful patient, Ines

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