Posted: December 1st, 2014

A New Prescription for the New Year

By, Fr. Mark Sietsema
The wonder drug that can change your life!

What would you say if I told you that I had a medicine that would:


  • Lower your blood pressure

  • Strengthen your cardiovascular system

  • Banish depression by adjusting your serotonin and dopamine

  • Fortify your immune system

  • Reduce inflammation

  • Decrease the stress hormone cortisol

  • Balance your hormones like testosterone and oxytocin

  • Modulate your blood sugar in a healthful way


I have been called a snake-oil salesman before (by atheists and agnostics), so you won’t hurt my feelings.  But I am not putting a fast one over on you.  There is something that can do all these things!  Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a prominent neuroscientist at Duke University has said of this thing that, if it were a drug, it would be the best-selling health product in the world!  Others have claimed that it is were a drug, it would be malpractice for a doctor NOT to put all of his or her patients on a lifelong prescription.


What is this wonder drug?


Gratitude.  A thankful heart is a happy heart, and a healthy heart inside a healthy body. 


This is the conclusion of multiple research programs.  For example, psychologists gave different assignments to three groups of people.  The first group was asked to keep a diary of all the things that happened in a week for which they were grateful.  The second group was asked to record all the things that had irritated or displeased them.  The third group was asked to keep a log on everything, positive or negative.  After ten weeks, Group One was measurably happier than the other two groups—more optimistic, more satisfied with their lives, exercising more regularly and seeing their physician fewer times. 


In another study a psychologist had a large group of people write and deliver each week one letter of gratitude for someone in their lives who had not been appropriately thanked in the past.  These participants exhibited a tremendous increase in their scores on measurements of happiness, more than any comparable group using some other prescription. 


Studies of the workplace show that employees who are regularly thanked are more productive and operate out of a stronger sense of self-worth.  They in turn exude a sense of gratitude towards those they deal with in doing business. 


This is what I peddle: gratitude.  Why do I say that?  Because the Divine Liturgy is an eucharistia,  an expression of gratitude par excellence. 


When we come to church, we come to ask God for things, we come to receive help, we come to be blessed.  But above all that, we should be coming each time to show gratitude.  We may not feel like we need to ask God to do something for us every week.  But we surely have reason every week to say thanks.  If we neglect to be grateful, we are missing our biggest dose of natural medicine in the week.


 “Let us lift up our hearts! Let us give thanks unto the Lord! This is proper and right!” 


In this New Year ahead, let this be your resolution, to take your medicine regularly—the medicine of gratitude towards God, expressed in the way He desires, by coming together regularly with God’s people, each and every week, to give thanks. 


Happy New Year!

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