Gratitude for a Healthier and Better Life

Saying Thank you (Photo Credit: Calebdufresne.theworldrace.org)
Saying Thank you (Photo Credit: Calebdufresne.theworldrace.org)

Do you know that being grateful and saying more “thank you’s” can actually make you healthier and happier? 

Oh yes, some studies have revealed that grateful people were less depressive, less envious and less anxious, and much more likely to help others.  Those who often go out of their way to help others are usually those who are more grateful and not necessarily financially rich.

Science is now proving that feeling grateful can actually make people healthier, literally.  Practicing gratitude, acknowledging the blessings in our lives and making it a point to recognize the good things can change us positively.

A couple of studies conducted by Robert Emmons, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis and Michael McCullough, likewise a psychology professor but from the University of Miami, showed results that people who focused on gratitude were just so obviously happier, seeing their lives in prettier colors, and rarely reported negative physical symptoms like pain, headaches or colds, and they were active in ways that were very beneficial for them.

One study found that people who were consciously grateful:

  • Are more satisfied and felt better about their lives
  • Were more optimistic
  • Were more enthusiastic
  • Were more determined
  • Were more energetic
  • Were more interested
  • Were more joyful
  • Exercised more
  • Had fewer illnesses
  • Got more sleep
  • Were more likely to have helped someone else

In short, those who were grateful had a higher quality of life!

Related studies further disclosed other benefits as well, all of which could be linked to a grateful mindset:  clearer thinking, better resilience during tough times, higher immune response, less likelihood of being plagued by stress, longer lives, closer family ties because gratitude improves relationships, greater spirituality.

Another study conducted by Alice M. Isen, psychologist and professor from Cornell University, came up with the hypothesis that the good feelings generated by something as simple as an expression of appreciation intervene in the release of dopamine, the chemical in the brain associated with happiness.  She furthered explained that dopamine is released when people are feeling good or are excited by a challenge; activating the parts of the brain in which complex thinking and conflict resolution are thought to be headquartered.

So how can we be healthier using the science of gratitude in our lives?  Here are tips:

  1.  Have a Gratitude journal where you can list a few things that happened every day for which you are grateful.
  2. Keep checking that list and adding what you can regularly.
  3. Think of people you want to thank or show appreciation for; and do whatever form of appreciation you think is best or acceptable to you.  Practicing gratitude is necessary until it becomes an attitude.

Remember the Law of Attraction?  The universal law of attraction tells us that we will attract into our life those things we think about and focus on. Hence, making gratitude a part of our life on a regular basis would attract more things that we could again be  thankful for!  Truly, to improve one’s mood or outlook, the fastest way is to count your blessings; not your woes.  Gratitude equals better health, no doubt!

Web Sources:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34131527/ns/health-behavior/t/say-thank-you-its-your-health/

http://getbetterhealth.com/tag/saying-thank-you

http://www.successconsciousness.com/guest_articles/power_of_gratitude.htm