Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude
If you want to get healthier, give thanks.
Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario
What would happen if we extended the tradition of giving thanks, typically celebrated just once a year during the holiday season, throughout the entire year? Such gratitude would be rewarded with better health, say researchers.
No pill? No strict diet or exercise regimen? Can just a positive emotion such as gratitude guarantee better health? It may be a dramatic departure from what we've been taught about how to get healthier, but the connection between gratitude and health actually goes back a long way.
"Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue," says University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons. Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have extolled gratitude as a virtue integral to health and well-being. Now, through a recent movement called positive psychology, mental health professionals are taking a close look at how virtues such as gratitude can benefit our health. And they're reaping some promising results.
Benefits of Gratitude
Grateful people -- those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind -- have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health, according to Emmons' research on gratitude. "Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations," Emmons tells WebMD.