Tis the season…


During the seasonal celebrations I think it can be wise to reflect a bit about life – to improve our brain health. One way to attempt this is by asking yourself what you are thankful for? Here are just a few examples of what I am thankful for (including the mundane).

Family and Friends:

I am thankful for my family and friends. Family, because of love and our evolutionary link. Friends, because of love and the sharing of thoughts and ideas.

This brings up a recent conversation that came up one evening about what is a friend? Is someone a friend because they are on your facebook list? Possibly but not necessarily. I think there is a closeness distribution of friendships – not all friends do we think of as the same. Individuals have different definitions of how we classify friendship. Some say they only have 4 friends while others say 50, 100 or more. I would think there are basic differences in how many friends you make, but also how you define what a friend is. That aside, no matter how you define them – be thankful for your friends.

Recent studies suggest that the happiness of your friends have a relatively large influence on your happiness. Additionally, it appears that being overweight or obese is also influenced by the weight of your friends (see here for a piece that covers how friendships influence both the happiness and obesity). both negative and positive attributions appear to be ‘contagious’ among your social networks. If your friends can influence your happiness then I think there (yours) enthusiasm, drive, kindness, optimism, world-view, hopefulness could also spread among friendship networks.

What are you spreading among our friendship networks?

The everyday consumer things:

I am also thankful for a thing most of us take for granted – the shoes I wear daily. They are waterproof runners and have been incredible in the unusual high level of snow and slush which has fallen where I live. I also think of all the people in the world that can not even afford shoes, or if they do they are certainly not waterproof, arch supporting, light weight, breathable, cushioned, traction assisted, etc, etc runners.

What things that you can buy are you thankful for? In comparison to the rest of the world how fortunate are you because of this luxury?


The other thing that I think most of us to be reminded about to be thankful for is our health. This blog is about brain health but I still need to remind myself about my own health, and my family and friends’ health.

When you have a dip in your health and are suffering not too many other things seem more important. You just want to get rid of the pain/suffering and return to a healthy state. I have enough experience with major diseases to empathize with people with current health problems undergoing real suffering (though it is easy to forget). But I laugh at myself when I get a little cold and do not feel well – and immediately, even with this small amount of suffering all I want is it to stop and return to a healthy state. At that stage I am always extremely grateful for my normally good health. I am more clearly aware of how good health is primary to a happy life. And I wonder how people make it through serious diseases, be they acute or even worse – chronic. If you are healthy and not suffering be very very thankful.

Health can be all encompassing, but also can be broken down into smaller compartments. Treasure all of your health –  knees, joints, breathing/lungs, muscle/movement, eyes, etc, etc but also do not forget mental health.  You can have a healthy body but if you have a mental disease it will not matter . The same as a major health issue – say a severely painful arthritic knee can play havoc with your mind – a diverse set of mental diseases will play havoc with the entire system. Not that you can really separate mind and body you need a healthy mind and body to feel ‘healthy’.

The problem of course is that too many of us only worry about their health when they lose some of it. One should take a pro active stance and do all the right things to reduce the chances of lost health. Do the simple things; health eating and exercise. And if you need additional boosters of your health seek them out.

What are you going to do in the new year for your health?

To better brain and body health in 2009.