Parent Education

Seize the holiday, be grateful, and laugh heartily

Written by: Dr. TIK Chi-yuen, Director, The Hong Kong Institute of Family Education

I enjoy cooking and inviting relatives and friends to gatherings at home. When gathering with family and friends, they share, laugh heartily, play games, and even laugh uncontrollably. Numerous studies have shown that laughter can reduce stress, boost the immune system, and lead to fewer illnesses, while also strengthening relationships.

Scientific research indicates that regular family gatherings not only improve communication and strengthen healthy relationships but also help children avoid smoking, drinking, and drugs in the long run, and can even enhance their academic performance. It seems that having more meals together and chatting has many benefits!

If you pay a little more attention, helping to wash dishes after a meal, preparing desserts for friends, or volunteering can warm others’ hearts and your own. It is more blessed to give than to receive. No wonder research also shows that these actions can lower high blood pressure and protect heart health.

City dwellers endure considerable stress, mostly from academics, work, and family. Consequently, many urbanites suffer from headaches, stomachaches, loss of appetite, and muscle pain. However, research from the University of Illinois at Chicago in the United States shows that frequently expressing gratitude, appreciating others, and giving timely praise can alleviate these stress-induced symptoms and even depression. People who are often grateful do not spend much time comparing themselves to others, thus they are more content and happy.

British researchers studied a group of local university students and found that those who frequently expressed gratitude had fewer symptoms of depression and stress, and also had more social support. Additionally, people who regularly count their blessings tend to be more optimistic and easily satisfied. With so many benefits to being grateful, why not embrace it?