Beyond the Words of Gratitude: Health Benefits

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December 28, 2013 by Dr. Sana Keller

gratitude1Know what I’m grateful for? I’m grateful for the incredible health benefits that result from practicing gratitude. Research continues to mount showing that feeling grateful can have positive effects on our lives, health, and psychological and emotional well-being. A few examples of the benefits:

  • Dr. Robert Emmons of UC Davis, whose research work focuses on gratitude, defines gratitude as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” He has been instrumental in measuring the effects of a grateful disposition and has found that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. People who were in the gratitude condition felt 25% happier about the future, better about their lives, and actually exercised over an hour more/week than those not practicing gratitude. The disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions, yet grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life. gratitude4
  • Jeffrey Froh, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Hofstra University-NY, has found the following from his research on gratitude:  Adults who feel grateful are more optimistic, report more social satisfaction, experience less envy, less depression and fewer physical complaints.  They also sleep better and get more exerciseKids who experience more gratitude do better in school, set higher goals for themselves, derive more satisfaction from life, friends, family, and school and are generally less materialistic and have more desire to give back.
  • Clinical Psychologist Dr. Christina Hibbert lists 10 Benefits of Practicing Gratitude: Be Happier—Be Healthier—Reduce Negative Emotions—Cope Better—Increase Self-worth—Increase Life’s Meaning—Enjoy Your Work More—Improve Your Relationships—Increase Your Spiritual Connection—Improve Your Parenting Skills.
  • Amit Amin, a student of positive psychology, has compiled a list of 31 Benefits of Gratitude at: http://happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/. His site gives specific data from gratitude research as it pertains to health, emotional well-being, and more.
  • From A Harvard Health newsletter: In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude (thankful appreciation) helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. gratitude5

Convinced yet? Whether you prefer writing your list of ‘Five Things I’m Grateful For’ in a fancy Gratitude Journal—like this: gratitude journal—OR a basic notebook like this: spiral 2—OR an online version like this: http://happyrambles.com/ happy rambles(I just signed up for it!)—OR an ‘app’ for your smart phone :gratitude app (just search under Gratitude Journal on your App Store), it’s a great time to start—seriously no need to wait until Jan. 1st to begin!

Know what else I’m grateful for? All of you wonderful readers and friends. May you enjoy ever-increasing benefits as you intentionally practice gratitude. gratitude2

Sana Keller, MS, RN, CNC, MH, HHP

Photo credits: sisterssuitcaseblog.com, nowtoronto.com, mymornincoffee.com, relationsbuilder.com

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