The Healing Power of Gratitude

By Penny Cowden, Executive Director of the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation

Philanthropic giving to give the greatest gift of all, health.

Penny Cowden, Executive Director of the Columbia Memorial Hospital Foundation

Gratitude has only recently been examined or studied by scientific psychologists. Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis, has written the first major scientific study on gratitude, its causes, and potential impact on human health.

In his work entitled Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Dr. Emmons concluded that “grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism.” He discovered that gratitude is a deeper, more complex emotion that plays a critical role in happiness. Gratitude is literally one of the things that can measurably change people’s lives.

For those of us who work with donors every day to make sure their philanthropy has the maximum impact possible, Dr. Emmons’ findings are not too surprising. His findings merely quantify what gift planners and philanthropists have known for a long time—giving heals.

Time and time again patients ask how they can express their thanks as part of their healing process. The stories of love and gratitude that abound at CMH prove these emotions are two of the most powerful healers.

We are blessed at CMH to receive thousands of comments, letters and cards every year expressing heart-felt thanks for the care and caring received. Conversations with donors who give through the Foundation’s Circle of Care Program clearly demonstrate the depth of healing that can be achieved through gratitude. It’s a testament to the physicians, nurses, volunteers and staff who do their best each day to demonstrate the spirit of caring that defines the mission of Columbia Memorial Hospital.

And as many thanks as we are honored to receive, we will never be able to express our own gratitude for our partners, friends, patients and community members who give us their trust and support each and every day.

Read more from the Fall 2017 issue of the CMH Health Compass.