The Importance of Gratitude!

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates
Volume 12, Number 11

November means that Thanksgiving is here. Rather than focusing on the meaning of the holiday, we are barraged with Black Friday sales and food we must have and eat. No matter where we look and even on our phones, we are saturated with sales that are too good to pass up. As sure as we are reading this, there will be videos on the news of people waiting in line or falling over each other to be the first into the stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Foods also get overemphasized. Unless we eat like gluttons, we are not participating in the holiday.

Thanksgiving is really about gratitude. It is the recognition of giving thanks and appreciation for what we have not what we should have to buy. It is about helping others less fortunate than us and enjoying the gift of giving to others. This is the true message of Thanksgiving. Only you and I can make this message stronger by living and practicing gratitude.

Our yearly November E-Letter is about The Importance of Gratitude. Dr. Kimmel continues his blog and our email of the Month is about Civilization in 2017. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful and interesting. We also thank you for reading our E-Letters and for the numerous positive and compassionate comments we have received.

Practice News

Boys to Men. On November 11, Dr. Kimmel presented his annual program for fathers and their sons at Temple Beth Emet in Cooper City. Meeting with the fathers first, the focus was on understanding the developmental transitions their sons go through when entering the teenage years and how to be an appropriate role model. Dr. Kimmel then met with the sons and discussed the importance of accepting “no” from their fathers and what they can do to make this world better in some way. Feedback was extremely positive. For more information, contact Dr. Kimmel.

Dr. Akiva Daum. We are very pleased to announce that Akiva Daum, MD has joined our practice. Dr. Daum is a multiple Board Certified Psychiatrist who will be seeing patients eighteen years and older for a limited number of hours a week. He specializes in Addiction Psychiatry and will also see patients who are in need of general psychiatric care. His special interests include treating patients with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders as well as chronic pain and addiction disorders. He has taught and supervised other psychiatrists, medical students, residents, and fellows. For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Daum, call our office at 954 755-2885.

Testings. Our practice does psychological and psychoeducational assessments to help answer questions about ADHD, school placement, test accommodations including the PSAT, SAT, GRE, etc., gifted class placement, and psychological diagnosis. Information regarding the tests can be found on our website. If you have more specific questions, please contact Dr. Kimmel or Paul Dolnick.

Support groups. We currently have two ongoing weekly therapy groups that have been quite successful and have been running for well over two years. A men’s support group and a women’s support group are run by Dr. Jim Kaikobad and meets for one and one-half hours. This confidential group is educational and supportive and is limited to 8 people.

Benefits of these groups include significant cost reduction, time effectiveness, and the support and understanding of other members experiencing similar issues. If you or a family member would like to participate in either of these groups, please contact Jillian in our office at 954 755-2885

Downloads of handouts from our previous E-Letters can be found on our website, We invite you to read and download them if desired.


Positive psychology is a relatively new field. It is unlike traditional psychology which focuses on the understanding of behavior and the therapeutic treatment of emotional problems. Positive psychology is the study of the human strengths that enable people to live happy and productive lives. It is the study basically of what makes life worth living. It emphasizes what is best in people to enhance experiences of love, work, and play. Its goals are to develop a better, more fulfilling life and to heal problem areas. Having and expressing gratitude is one of the key elements of positive psychology.

Gratitude is not just saying “Thank you” as we hope you do on Thanksgiving. Gratitude is a deeper emotion that shows true appreciation to oneself and to others including animals and a higher power. Gratitude reflects a recognition of the qualities one has whether it is tangible or intangible. It is a recognition of the blessings one has received and the goodness in their lives. It is seeing and appreciating what is truly valuable and meaningful to oneself and being thankful for it.

The feeling of gratitude involves two steps according to Dr. Robert Emmons. In the first stage, people acknowledge the goodness in their own lives. They recognize that their lives are good and are worth living. When they receive something, they are gratified by its presence and the effort the giver puts into it. In the second stage, gratitude recognizes that some of this goodness is directed towards others. A person can be grateful to other people, animals, and to a spiritual force but not to oneself. They are thankful to those who have made them happy.

Expressing gratitude is a selfless act. It is done not only to feel good but to show others that they are appreciated and valuable. It does not require that other people return the act with their gratitude. It is done because it is intrinsically rewarding. People can use gratitude to form new relationships or improve old ones. Gratitude can also be used to apologize and help others solve their problems. Paying it forward is another way that gratitude can motivate those who received goodness to do acts of goodness to others. Research has also shown that expressing gratitude can lead to a sense of optimism and overall well-being. It can decrease depression, increase one’s sense of satisfaction in life, and improve one’s overall mental and physical health.

Expressing gratitude takes effort and can become a daily practice. Thanksgiving is a perfect time to start this practice. Because we live in a society where people do not often show courtesy, it can become difficult to express thankfulness. However, by developing certain patterns, one can bring gratitude into their lives and into the lives of their family members. Like anything else learned, you must focus your attention on what you want to accomplish and practice it. To develop gratitude, train yourself to think of all the positive things that have happened to you. At night, think of those things that have happened during the day and give thanks for them. Don’t focus on the negative but look for the positive. Another activity is to keep a Gratitude Journal and write down daily what you are thankful for even if it is repetitive. Ask your friends and family to tell each other what is positive in their lives and what they are thankful for. Go out of your way to recognize and express thanks to others who have done something for you. Write letters of gratitude thanking others for the positive impact they have had on your life. Give yourself a reward in a gratitude bank or gratitude chart for each expression of gratitude you make. Maintain the attitude that rather than dwelling on your problems, you are going to find something positive in your life and give thanks for it. Remember to accentuate the positive.

We offer the following information on The Importance of Gratitude:

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us
— Albert Schweitzer


  • Gratitude is a key concept in the growing field of positive psychology
  • For millennia, gratitude has been viewed as an important virtue necessary for a successful civilization
  • Having gratitude has long been a part of spiritual and religious practices and many people start their day giving thanks for just waking up
  • Gratitude is not only thankfulness: it is the positive emotion of a deeper appreciation for someone or something that has enriched our lives
  • Gratitude helps people connect to something larger than themselves such as nature, a higher power, or a divine force
  • Gratitude is also the recognition of the things others have gifted us or done for us even though we may not have deserved it or not returned the gift
  • Gratitude is truly the appreciation of what a person finds valuable and meaningful
  • Words used to describe gratitude include praise, gratefulness, grace, recognition, appreciativeness, and thankfulness
  • Gratitude has two stages according to Dr. Robert Emmons:
  • Acknowledging the goodness in our own lives which includes the recognition that in general, life is good, and full of texture and detail
  • Acknowledging the goodness from sources outside ourselves; from others, animals, and the world in general but not ourselves
  • Expressing gratitude is a selfless act as it lets others know that they are appreciated
  • Gratitude can also be used to apologize as well as to help others solve their problems
  • Gratitude can be reciprocated in that performing an act of gratitude to one person may cause them to be gracious back to you or to pay it forward to others
  • Research has shown that being thankful can improve your sense of well-being, decrease depression, increase life satisfaction, strengthen relationships, improve mental and physical health, develop stronger immune systems, and increase an overall sense of optimism about life
  • Expressing gratitude will take effort but it can become a daily practice


  • Before going to sleep each night, think of all the positive things that have happened during the day and give thanks for them
  • Keep a gratitude journal and write down what you have given thanks for
  • Ask friends and family to say to each other what they are grateful for
  • Every day, actively notice new things that you are grateful for
  • Go out of your way to thank others who have done something for you
  • Write gratitude letters and thank others for the positive impact they have had on your life
  • Find new ways to express gratitude such as keeping a gratitude bank in which you add money for each expression of gratitude, keeping a gratitude chart, etc.
  • Seek professional help if you feel depressed and are unable to find anything to feel grateful about

Call us at 954 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates
5551 N University Drive, Suite 202
Coral Springs FL 33067
Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D.

Dr. K’s Blog
November 18. 2017
On Thursday nights, I take a restorative yoga class. This class is not a typical yoga class. Rather, it is more of a meditation and relaxation class. Guided by the instructor while in postures of relaxation, I find myself letting go and truly relaxing from the business of the week. In fact, when the class is over, few yogis want to leave and “I needed that” is frequently heard.

Although I have been trained in relaxation techniques and use them with some patients, it is hard for me to actually relax. Taking this class has allowed me to experience in some way what my patients experience. True relaxation necessitates the ability to let go; something most of us have a hard time doing. Whether we live hurried lives or we don’t have a sense of safety without our guards being up, relaxation takes practice. Letting one’s guard down takes trust. Letting go takes effort.

In restorative yoga after a sense of stillness is achieved in a posture, the instructor uses guided imagery to describe peaceful and beautiful scenes to direct our attention towards relaxing. Following the teacher’s imagery, one can transcend the everyday world into the world of the imagery. Worries disappear, muscles loosen and smooth out, and the events of the day are forgotten for a few moments. Some people become so relaxed that they even fall asleep.

Research has shown that relaxation has many psychological and physical benefits. In the hectic and stressful world in which we live, relaxation is not a luxury. It is a necessity. I have found my way to relax in restorative yoga. I hope you can find your way. Consider taking a yoga class.

October 21, 2017
Last night I watched the movie, “Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace, Music, and Love”, and was visibly moved by how much our society has changed in the almost 50 years since this festival occurred. As I remembered and confirmed in the movie, the Woodstock community was peaceful and loving. Numerous comments were made about how nice the kids were, how courteous they were to each other, and how helpful they were to each other. This happened despite the quantity of drugs, the rain, the lack of food, the lack of accommodations, and the difficulties in transportation. Townspeople went out of their way to comment on how courteous the kids were saying “thank you” and “please” and asking permission. They greeted each other warmly and were well behaved not wanting to trespass on the property of others. They respected themselves and each other. When food ran out, they shared. When it rained, they shared whatever they had to cover themselves. When disagreements occurred, they settled them peacefully. When someone overdosed or had bad trips, there were others and medics to help them. They worked together to make this temporary society flourish. As Spock says in Star Trek, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.

Contrast that with today’s society. It seems to me that disrespect has become the norm. The values of our society which has existed for generations seems to have become eroded. Language has deteriorated to the point that curse words are used commonly in language by both sexes in public and on television. Dress has become so casual that in some cases it borders on sloppy and unsanitary. Respect for institutions is not trendy nor important. Values seem to be only important when it serves the needs of the person. Verbal attacks upon others occur daily and fake news and innuendo have become okay to use as fact. People will trample others to get the sale item when in limited quantities. Often, we don’t hear thank you or please even when holding the door for others. Protests have replaced communication, problem solving, compromise, or even mutual discussion. Selfishness and materialism seem to have become the norm and are reinforced by our media. The needs of the one appears to be more important than the needs of the many.

What has caused this in the past almost 50 years? We can point to many factors: fear, anger, the Vietnam War and others, the coming of age of the Internet, advertising, the pursuit of more money at the expense of others, the absence of appropriate role modeling by adults, drugs and alcohol, lies and deceit by politicians, celebrities, and broadcast news, serial abusers, Madoff type scandals, hidden agendas, and a silent society that allows these changes to occur. I am sure we can cite more causes.

Can we ever regain respect for our society to function? I would like to be optimistic and think yes. We see it in the support our nation gives to others when there is a disaster. We see it when individuals volunteer their money and time to help those who are less fortunate. We see it in the dedicated teachers and first responders. We see it in many others who still honor our values.

What can you do? Respect yourself. Follow the Golden Rule. Stick to your standards even though others may not. Say “thank you” and please. Smile at others. Be courteous. Let others get in front of you while driving. Just be concerned about the needs of the many rather than the needs of the one.

As always, I am interested in your thoughts. If you would like to respond to this blog, email me your comments at and I will publish them next month.

Email of the Month

We would like to again thank Dr. Howie for the following email:

Civilization in 2017- this is priceless!!!

Our Phones – Wireless
Cooking – Fireless
Cars – Keyless
Food – Fatless
Tires -Tubeless
Dress – Sleeveless
Youth – Jobless
Leaders – Shameless
Relationships – Meaningless
Attitudes – Careless
Babies – Fatherless
Feelings – Heartless
Education – Valueless
Children – Mannerless
Our Government-is CLUELESS,
And our Politicians-are WORTHLESS!

Till December…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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If you find this information interesting or helpful, please forward this E-Letter to your contacts and friends. Copyright © 2017 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D. P.A. and Associates.