An Attitude of Gratitude is Good For Your Health


Do you have an attitude of gratitude? If you don’t, you represent a growing majority of people – and it may be bad for your health.

Jennifer Breheny Wallace, writing in The Wall Street Journal, is concerned about the growing number of young people, especially, who have sense of entitlement and little appreciation for their many blessings. She says the saddest part is that many parents don’t even expect their children to be grateful anymore.

Other generations have been accused of the same lack of gratitude but this one may be worse than ever. In a 2012 national online poll of 2,000 adults, commissioned by the John Templeton foundation, 59% of those surveyed thought that most people today are “less likely to have an attitude of gratitude than 10 or 20 years ago.”

The youngest group, 18 to 24 year-olds, were the least likely of any group to report expressing gratitude regularly (only 35%) and the most likely to express gratitude for self-serving reasons (“it will encourage people to be kind or generous to me”).

Dr. Richard Weissbourd, faculty director of the Making Caring Common initiative at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, says, “In some communities, specifically among the white middle and upper-middle class, there’s good reason to believe that kids are less grateful than in the past.” He places much of the blame for this on the self-esteem movement.

Weissbourd says parents were fed a myth that if children feel better about themselves – if parents praise them, cater to their every need and make them feel happy – it will help them to develop character. He says, “But what we’re seeing in many cases is the opposite: When parents organize their lives around their kids, those kids expect everyone else to as well, and that leads to entitlement.” It seems that when children are raised to feel entitled to everything, they are left feeling grateful for nothing.

There’s an old hymn called Count Your Blessings. The chorus goes like this:

Count your blessings, name them one by one

Count your blessings, see what God has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one

Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

The words of this hymn were written in the late 19th century by Johnson Oatman, Jr.


Now there is proof that this hymn has good medical as well as spiritual advice. A study led by Dr. David Rosmarin, director of the Spirituality and Mental Health Program at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, has shown the wisdom of these words. The study was published in 2011 in the Journal of Positive Psychology and was composed of the responses of 400 adults. The researchers found, in keeping with past studies, that general gratitude was associated with less anxiety, less depression, and greater well-being.

Most of the research on the benefits of gratitude has been focused on adults, but researchers are now turning their attention to how gratitude can better the lives of children, too. It seems that experience of high levels of gratitude in the adolescent years can set a child up to thrive.

Research has shown that a growth in gratitude in students results in:

  • Growth in prosocial behavior
  • Decrease in negative social behavior – when compared with students whose gratitude levels remain level or decrease
  • Improved management of students’ lives – especially in identifying important goals for the future
  • Stronger relationships with peers – grateful students were perceived by peers as having a warmer personality and being friendlier and thoughtful


The good news is that there is evidence you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude. In a paper published in 2014 in the journal School Psychology Review, researchers describe an educational program they developed to train elementary school students, ages 8 to 11, in gratitude. Students who received the training, even for just one week, were not only better at “thinking” gratefully, they also reported experiencing more grateful emotions and greater increase in positive social behavior.

When researchers followed up with the students who stayed in the program longer five months later, they found these positive effects continued to grow. With intentional practice, experts say that gratitude can move from a fleeting state to a habit and can eventually become a personality trait.

It’s never too late to count your blessings. It’s good for your health!

Affordable Healthcare Insurance


In my last post, Short-Term Solutions for ObamaCare, I discussed ways in which the Trump administration was trying to fix ObamaCare. Since complete repeal failed, the White House is looking for ways to make healthcare more affordable for more Americans.

By eliminating the Individual Mandate, Trump has eliminated the coercion of the Obama administration that forced everyone to purchase healthcare insurance or pay a tax penalty. Now he is trying to lower the cost of insurance so more Americans, especially those without subsidies, can purchase it.

Lowering the Cost

Sally Pipes, writing in Forbes, explains why these new insurance plans will be less expensive. First, they don’t have to comply with the “community rating” rule, which prohibits insurers from charging sick enrollees more than they charge healthy ones. ObamaCare changed the normal process of actuarial analysis that insurers use to estimate future expenses.

Imagine if your teenage son has had five motor vehicle accidents in the last two years but his insurance company cannot charge him a higher premium. Normally, he would be refused insurance at all. But that’s not allowed, either.

The second rule, called “guaranteed issue”, mandates that insurers offer coverage to any willing buyers, no matter how sick or costly they may be. In other words, the insurance company could not refuse to insure your teenage son, no matter how bad his driving! In such a predicament, what is an insurance company to do?

The answer is obvious – charge everyone more! By raising the price of insurance for everyone, they avoid discrimination against your son, the teenage driving menace. They spread the cost of his insurance over the whole market so they can comply with the “guaranteed issue” mandate. Of course, all the good drivers pay more than necessary to coverage the cost of their insurance.

This is exactly how ObamaCare has been treating the cost of your insurance. By eliminating “community rating” and “guaranteed issue”, the insurers can once again price healthcare insurance according to actuarial analysis, the real cost.

To illustrate the impact this will have, let’s look at real rates. At the end of 2016, the average monthly cost for an unsubsidized ObamaCare-compliant plan was $393 per month. The average cost of a short-term plan that is priced by actuarial analysis only is $124 per month. That’s 31% of the cost of the ObamaCare-compliant plan. That’s a savings of $3,228 per year!

Now you know why your insurance is so expensive – and why you haven’t gotten a raise from your employer recently. ObamaCare has driven up the cost of insurance for everyone except those getting government subsidies – and this has lowered or stagnated wages for most employees.

Americans figured this out under the Obama administration. The young and healthy refused to purchase insurance, despite the Individual Mandate tax, and this resulted in higher prices for everyone else. Only 11.8 million people enrolled in ObamaCare exchange plans this year – a 3.7 percent decline from 2017 and nearly 1 million fewer enrollees than 2016.

The Trump administration’s proposed rule changes put low-cost options back on the table. If approved, these new plans should be available by this summer or early fall. It is estimated between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans will jump at the chance to abandon their exchange plan for these new short-term plans.

Short-Term Solutions for ObamaCare


Repeal of ObamaCare is dead; at least for the near future. Republicans have now shifted to a new strategy of piecemeal fixes for the failing Obama healthcare system.

A major accomplishment was the repeal of the Individual Mandate of ObamaCare as a provision of the new tax reform legislation. This eliminated the IRS tax penalty imposed on anyone who did not have ObamaCare-compliant health insurance. By eliminating this mandate, consumers are free to purchase short-term, non-compliant coverage without fear of the tax consequences.

Prior to 2016, during the Obama administration, many people turned to short-term, limited-duration plans (STLDI) that are exempt from most ObamaCare regulations because they were cheaper. But they had to accept the penalty then for non-compliance with the Individual Mandate. Despite this, they became so popular that the Obama Administration restricted their duration to three months.

Now, the Trump administration has proposed new rules under which these affordable STDLI plans would be available for up to 364 days. The elimination of the Individual Mandate makes these plans more attractive than ever and Trump wants to encourage these plans.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board says the people who could benefit most from an alternative are those the law has slammed: Americans above 400% of the poverty line – a couple making about $65,000 – who have been coerced to buy a product without subsidies. HHS estimates that 100,000 to 200,000 individuals would migrate to short-term plans from the exchanges, and a mere 10% or so would have been eligible for subsidies.

Supporters of ObamaCare will argue that these plans will harm the exchanges by luring the young and healthy away. But most millennials already figured out the exchanges offered a bad deal for them because they were forced to pay exorbitant premiums to subsidize the cost of the old and sick. These STDLI plans allow insurers to price them by actuarial risk (the real cost!) making them much more attractive to young and healthy Americans.

Republicans have also delayed or repealed two other significant parts of ObamaCare: the law’s “Cadillac tax” on high-cost insurance, and its Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) for Medicare oversight. These are popular changes that were much needed. They were intended to serve as cost-controls of healthcare spending. IPAB was never actually impaneled but represented a significant threat to the quality of medicine for seniors in the future.

Avik Roy, writing in Forbes, believes these changes are good policy, but will also mean fewer people agitating for dramatic health law changes. That may make full repeal of ObamaCare even less likely.

These changes do not represent a long-term solution for ObamaCare. But they do offer consumers attractive new choices over the status quo that are far better than the single-payer options progressive Democrats are proposing.