Gratitude good for health

A growing body of research suggests that maintaining an attitude of gratitude can improve psychological, emotional and physical well-being” writes Melinda Beck in a November 23, 2010 HealthJournal article in the Wall Street Journal.

She shares the results of a survey that found that high school students that were more grateful had more friends and higher GPAs. Perhaps not so surprising, less grateful students had lower grades and higher levels of envy.

Harold Coffin said, “Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.” (My thanks to certified health coach Ileana Perez de Rivera for tweeting this quote).

I think that holding in our thought a conscious recognition of, and appreciation for, the good in our lives serves to magnify and perpetuate experiencing that good.

It seems intuitive, doesn’t it, that we would feel better about things if we’re feeling grateful? And it also seems intuitive that when we express gratitude and appreciation to others that this would make them feel better.

But does gratitude really have an impact on health?

Three studies in 2003 by Emmons & McCullough found that practicing gratitude resulted in 25% greater happiness as well as better sleep for those with chronic health problems (and it is widely accepted that better sleep contributes to better health). Their report concludes that these benefits result from “a conscious focus on blessings“.

And a 2008 study by Wood, Joseph, Lloyd, and Atkins published in The Journal of Psychosomatic Research found that gratitude results in better sleep quality and better sleep duration.

So, if you’re having trouble sleeping or want to be happier, consider counting your blessings and expressing gratitude and appreciation more.

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