Be thankful! It’s good for you: The health benefits of gratitude

By Carolyn Anderson, MD

No matter when or whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, it is important to step back and be thankful on a daily basis. There are tangible emotional and physical health benefits to gratitude. Research shows that grateful people tend to have more energy, handle stress better, be less bothered by minor inconveniences, and suffer less depression.

By focusing on what is positive and good in your relationships, you will find yourself appreciating, supporting, and taking more interest in your partner. I once read of someone who transformed his relationship with his wife by writing one thing he appreciated about her every day for one year and giving it to her in a journal. Not only did she love the gift and the gesture, but their relationship has been amazing ever since.

Another benefit to gratitude is that when you focus on the abundance of possibilities around you, you begin to see more opportunities to expand and improve your business, career, and life. Robert A. Emmons, PhD, author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, claims gratitude helps an individual create a higher income and superior work outcomes.

The Journal of Personality & Social Psychology published a 2003 study by Emmons that divided hundreds of people into three groups. Group one recorded all their daily events, group two recorded their daily hassles, and group three recorded things they were grateful for. Participants in the third group not only were more optimistic but also made better progress on their goals and felt more loved.

In another study, researchers from the University of California found that students who kept gratitude journals were sick less, exercised more, and had more optimism than those in the control group.

To get in the habit of practicing everyday gratitude, try keeping a gratitude journal. Before going to bed, write down five things you were grateful for that day — a kiss from your spouse, your grandchild smiling at you, a beautiful sunset, or simply that you are healthy. Do this for one month, and you’ll see the great things that being grateful will bring into your life.

Reprinted with permission of Impowerage online magazine.

Dr. Carolyn Anderson is an eye surgeon and wellness expert who founded Impowerage magazine to raise money for macular degeneration research.

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