Are you thankful for your family? For the way the rainwater sparkles on your skin in the sun? How about a friend? Are you feeling lucky to just be alive? It turns out feelings like these are extremely good for your health. In a time when medical costs seem to rise higher than the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, we can concentrate on feeling thankful without it costing us a single dime.
If you don’t believe gratitude can make you healthier and happier, consider this. It’s an important enough field of study that the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley—in collaboration with the University of California, Davis—has launched a $5.6 million, three-year project, called Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude. This is due in part to early scientific findings that show gratitude can:
- Improve your immune system
- Promote positive emotions in yourself and others, and
- Guard against loneliness and isolation
Dr. Robert Emmons, of the University of California, has also found after eight years of intensive research, that gratitude can utterly transform one’s health and life.
One study conducted by Emmons and McCullough found that practicing gratitude can make a person 25% more happy, and a happier person is a healthier person. Just by concentrating on things that someone is thankful for, like a clear blue sky, or the smile of their loved one, powerful hormonal changes occur in the body. Even the rate at which we walk as we age decreases less quickly when we find a zest for life. A Canadian Medical Association Journal stated that the unhappiest people are 80 percent more likely to develop impairments in their daily functions than the happiest.
Dr. Paula Watkins points to yet another study:
“. . .a seminal paper in this field came out 10 years ago with an article titled, Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life (Emmons & McCollough, 2003). The study showed that participants randomly assigned to notice and appreciate up to five things they were grateful for were happier and healthier than participants who recorded neutral events or hassles.”
You can find some authentic reason to express thanks. Just one right thing in your life, and the conscious awareness of it can improve your health. Forget GMOs for a minute, and taxes, even. Forget your boss or the fact that you burned dinner. Just look at something beautiful or be grateful you can breathe. In doing so, your health is already blossoming.