Being Thankful Can Improve Your Health!

What do you know? As it turns out, having gratitude and being thankful can have certain health benefits, but how is this possible? Well, Robert Emmons – a psychologist at the University of California says, “grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol, and have higher rates of medication adherence…Gratitude is good medicine“(http://www.livescience.com/48904-gratitude-health-benefits.html).

Gratitude-is-the-open-door-to-abundance

Okay, that’s cool and all, but first of all, how does one become truly thankful? Here’s a few helpful tips from our friends at livescience.com. Tip number one is to create different ways that you can help others – buy them gifts, offer them services – realize that you are doing something for them out of the goodness of your heart. Another tip is to simply say “Thank You!” as often as possible; it’s a good way to connect to others and build stronger relationships. A third tip is to just take a step back and realize how fortunate you are; even when all things seem to be going wrong, appreciate the things that went right. These are just a few tips, if you want to check out the full list visit: http://www.livescience.com/25900-7-tips-gratitude-happiness.html.

Alright. So we’ve got the feeling of thankfulness down, but what exactly is that supposed to do for us in the long run? Well, it has important health benefits that not only allow us to become more active and healthy individuals but it also alters our brain chemistry. It gives us an increase in endorphins that allows us to be happier individuals. Phillip Watkins, an Eastern Washington University psychologist noted, “When you look at personality traits or virtues that correlate most strongly with people’s happiness, gratitude is always up there within the top three, if not the top one.”(http://www.livescience.com/48904-gratitude-health-benefits.html). It’s also been shown that people who practice gratitude have higher quality sleep at a longer duration of time than those who don’t. The study, from the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, believes that it’s likely because gratitude tends to produce positive feelings in the thought process before falling asleep.

In the article, they recognize that people who are more thankful than others may only be that way because their health is better in the first place. However, they looked at several studies where people asked over the course of a week to write down at least three good things that occurred to them every day. At the end of the studies, people revealed they had a general happier attitude than they’d had before. “A key to the effect, however, is that it must be other-focused. In a paper published in June 2014…Watkins and his colleagues showed that keeping a diary of three blessings worked much better to boost happiness than recalling three times when a person felt a sense of pride in his or her own accomplishments” (http://www.livescience.com/48904-gratitude-health-benefits.html).

I personally believe that this is a good topic to take note on since Thanksgiving is literally tomorrow. I think the study was good in the points that it was making, although I feel like some of them were pretty self-explanatory (i.e. when you’re happier you have positive thoughts) – that part to me seemed redundant. Another problem I had was the fact that there was no real details on the studies themselves (and I clicked on all of the links provided) so it’s hard to tell how accurate their examinations are. I did, however, think it was very interesting that as far as personality traits come the feeling that is most often correlated with happiness is gratitude; I had no idea it was that important in our sense of happiness, I would’ve thought the feeling that brought us the most happiness is love. I guess that means if you want the best chances of becoming happy work a little gratitude into your life!

Bibliography

Ghose, Tia. “Thanksgiving Science: Why Gratitude Is Good for You.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/48904-gratitude-health-benefits.html>.

Parry, Wynne. “7 Tips to Cultivate Gratitude.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/25900-7-tips-gratitude-happiness.html>.

Parry, Wynne. “How Gratitude Can Improve Your Life.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 01 Jan. 2013. Web. 26 Nov. 2014. <http://www.livescience.com/25901-how-gratitude-improves-happiness.html>.

1 thought on “Being Thankful Can Improve Your Health!

  1. Patrick Emil Jackson

    This is an intriguing post and also very applicable to the current thanksgiving season. While the concept of bettering health through feelings of gratitude may be a departure from what we’ve always thought about how to really be healthy, the connection make sense when examined closely. In a similar study led my Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, researchers found that, “there are some very interesting links between optimism and better immune function.” She compared the immune systems of healthy first year law students during a stressful midterm season and found that those who were characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses), had higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system, compared to more pessimistic classmates. It may be interesting to investigate whether there is a correlation between other positive emotions and better health, and in fact, if there is a causal relationship.

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