Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a time to express gratitude. But what would happen if we spread that feeling of thanks that so often is reserved for the holidays, expressing gratitude all year?
According to researchers, gratitude ramps up our health. Philosophers linked gratitude with health and well-being throughout history. Now, a movement known as positive psychology seeks to prove that the association of health benefits and gratitude are indeed associated.
According to Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California Davis, “grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations”.
Break the Stress Cycle
Stress is associated with heart disease and other leading causes of death including cancer. Fortunately, when you are thankful, stress doesn’t have the same hold on you. “Feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” according to Emmons.
There is an old joke that goes as follows. “What is the difference between optimists and pessimists?” The answer is that they are both right 50 percent of the time, but the optimist feels a whole lot better!”
Studies confirm this to be true. Grateful people are more optimistic, which studies demonstrate improves the immune system. Emmons points out “so much of gratitude is about one’s perspective and framework for looking at the word and at self. People who tend to be more mindful of the benefits they’ve received tend to focus their attention outward.”
Ways to Become Grateful
- Keep a journal. Write down all the things that you are thankful for on a regular basis.
- Make a list of all the good things in your life, whether it is accomplishments, family and friends, qualities and benefits that we have in life.
- Reflect on all the difficult situations that you have come through and voice gratitude for your ability to cope.
- Express thanks to not only your friends and family but also even strangers that have done good deeds for you. Take the person that let you ahead on the highway or through a line before them and thank them for their kindness.
As time goes on, expressing thanks will become a more instinctive, natural process for you and ultimately you will become happier and healthier.
Take the thankfulness of the holidays and express them throughout the year.
Have a happy and healthy holiday. Thanks!