After Thanksgiving, keep the gratitude going

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but you'd be smart to keep your gratitude going. Why? Because happiness researchers have proved - it's actually called the Science of Gratitude - that expressing your gratitude on a regular basis has many positive benefits, including better health, healthier relationships and greater creativity. What? It doesn't cure baldness? The research continues.

How or when you give thanks is up to you. You can write in a journal once a day or, just as powerful, once or twice a week. You can close your eyes and give thanks before you eat, or when you go to sleep, or any other time that feels right to you. Some people write letters of gratitude - corny but kind - and there is great pleasure experienced all around when you thank someone face to face for checking out your groceries or serving you your salad.

How does expressing gratitude make you happier? Thank you for asking. There are many new how-to-be-happy books on the shelves, but at the heart of all of them is one basic truth: You shape your reality by what you focus on. If you spend your day mindlessly focused on problems and worries - mistakes in the past or fears for the future - it's very easy to forget all the joy and beauty that is also in your life. By focusing on the positive - on big-ticket items like health and wealth, or small delights like a squeeze from a child or a seat on a crowded bus - you make it real, and from that fertile intersection of recognition and gratitude, your happiness can blossom and grow.

Schools Get Higher Grades On Fewer Fries And More Recess

Are you tired of hearing what a terrible job our schools are doing in the care and feeding of America's youth? Toxic food in the lunchrooms! No Phys. Ed. classes in the gyms! Rampant obesity! You've heard it all before. Leave every child a fat behind. But hear this: There are signs of a long overdue turnaround. It started in 2004 when Congress passed a law requiring each school district to develop a "wellness policy" and slowly, slowly, school-by-school, a new day is dawning. According to the latest research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the nation's schools have made "considerable improvement" in nutrition, fitness and health over the last six years.

What does "improvement" look like? Some examples: In 2000, 83 percent of school districts required elementary schools to teach P.E.

In 2006, that number increased to 93 percent. In 2000, only 4 percent of school districts banned vending machines selling students junk food. In 2006, the number is up to 30 percent. In 2000, only 4 percent of states required elementary schools to have recess. In 2006, 12 percent of states did. In 2000, 40 percent of schools sold kids deep-fried french fries. In 2006, only 19 percent do. And so on.

It may all be too little, too late to solve the kid obesity problem anytime soon, but still, it is happening. Let us give thanks. But if it's not happening at your kid's school, do something about it. Start today.

MRSA Alert! Time To Clean Up Your Act at the Gym

It started in hospitals and now it is spreading to gyms and health clubs. It is a lesser strain of MRSA - Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus - a staph infection that is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year. To lower your risk, take the following precautions:

  • Use your own clean towels. No sharing.
  • Use an alcohol spray to wipe down shared gym gear.
  • Cover shared surfaces (mats, benches) with your own towel.
  • Use your own yoga mat and keep it clean.
  • If you see signs of a skin infection - a rash or boils - see your doctor right away.

Outside the gym, you should resist the overuse and abuse of antibiotic creams and products. Use plain (not antibacterial) soap and water to treat most cuts, and keep your hands clean throughout the day. Eating certified organic meat and chicken also reduces the spread of antibiotics. If your doctor is too quick to give you unnecessary antibiotics, find a smarter doctor.

Marilynn Preston is a fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to

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