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Could Showing Gratitude Be Good for Our Health?

We Are Grateful concept with an angled signboard with the words on a rustic wooden pole in an autumn landscape, with a vintage style filter effect. Following the recent Thanksgiving celebration in the USA, the subject of being grateful has been on our minds. But should this be a year-round concept rather than just “thought about” on one day of the year? Are you a half full or half empty cup kind of person? The answer can tell a lot about your state of mind and whether you are generally optimistic or pessimistic…

Gratitude journals

Many of you will remember Oprah Winfrey promoting a gratitude journal on her TV shows a few years ago. Is it time to bring these gratitude journals back as another tool for improving our health? A slightly tongue-in-cheek meme (doing the rounds on Facebook) lists these 10 reasons we should be grateful and why - but it does have a ring to truth too... 1. Early wake ups = children to love. 2. House to clean = a safe place to live. 3. Laundry to do = clean clothes to wear. 4. Dishes to wash = food to eat. 5. Crumbs under the table = family meals. 6. Grocery shopping = dollars to provide for us. 7. Toilets to clean = indoor plumbing. 8. Lots of noise = people in your life. 9. Endless questions about homework = children’s brains growing. 10. Sore and tired in bed = you are still alive! A recent article in Healthline reported that research suggests people who regularly practice giving thanks are happier and healthier.

Healthline asks:

"What if there was a solution to stress so simple that it involved nothing more than feeling thankful for the good things in your life? In fact, there is. That solution is called gratitude.” Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California, has been a leading researcher in the growing field known as “positive psychology.” His research has found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” (as a permanent state of mind) experience many health benefits.

Such benefits include

• Taking better care of themselves physically and mentally. • Engaging in more protective health behaviors and maintenance. • Exercising more regularly. • Changing to a healthier diet. • Improving their mental alertness. • Coping better with stress and daily challenges. • Generally feeling happier and more optimistic. • Avoiding problematic physical symptoms. • Boosting and strengthening their immune systems. • Taking a brighter view of the future.

Are you becoming convinced that this might help you?

Professor Emmon tells us that we need to focus our attention outward... "Your attitude plays a large role in determining whether you can feel grateful in spite of life’s challenges." He says that gratitude is defined by your attitude towards both the outside world and yourself. He suggests that those who are more aware of the positives in their lives tend to focus their attention outside of themselves. At the same time, he reminds us that we need to be more mindful of what we have... “You may assume that those with more material possessions have more to be grateful for. However, research suggests otherwise. Edward Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, found that a high percentage of affluent people in Japan report low levels of life satisfaction, just as those living in poverty in India do. These findings suggest that it’s not how much you have, but how you feel about what you have, that makes the difference." He goes on to suggest that we too keep a gratitude journal... "Recording what you feel grateful for in a journal is a great way to give thanks on a regular basis." Emmons found that those who listed five things they felt grateful for in a weekly gratitude journal reported fewer health problems and greater optimism than those who did not while a second study suggested that daily writing led to a greater increase in gratitude than weekly writing. Could getting into these suggested habits on a daily or at least regular basis change you from being a half empty cupful type of person to one who always has a half full cup instead? And not forgetting that it could benefit your health at the same time too?   Source: http://www.healthline.com/health/depression/giving-thanks