Health Benefits of Gratitude

I know that giving thanks and being thankful is so good for you.

When Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to give thanks and the Bible says he was made whole.

Everywhere I turn, I'm reading about being thankful and living with gratitude. So I did some research to see if there were any studies on the power of gratitude. And there is.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, and author of Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity set out to discover why is gratitude so powerful.

“For too long, the concept of gratitude had been ignored,” said Emmons, director of the university’s Emmons Lab, which creates and shares scientific data on gratitude, its causes, and its potential effects on human health and well-being. He calls it “the forgotten factor in the science of well-being."

Emmons set out to research the ways that gratitude affects our lives. To assess people’s levels of thankfulness. He and his colleague Michael E. McCullough created a questionnaire that allowed them to compare “grateful people” to those who were less grateful.

They also found ways to cultivate gratitude in test subjects:

Keeping a “gratitude journal”

Counting one’s blessings

Writing letters of thanks

He then studied the changes that occurred as a result.

The results of his studies and others — both psychological and physiological — are fascinating. Here are five reasons why giving thanks is actually good for you.

  • Boosts your health - Emmons’ and McCullough’s research showed that grateful people had less depression and stress, lower blood pressure, more energy, and greater optimism. Who needs medicine, start counting your blessings! The book 1000 Gifts is all about the benefits of counting your blessings.

  • Slows down the aging clock - Whoop! Whoop! Count me in! LOL! In older adults, Emmons and McCullough found that a daily practice of gratitude even slowed down some of the effects of neurodegeneration that often occurs as we age.

  • It helps manage stress - Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” and when our bodies produce too much, it can deplete the immune system and raise blood sugar levels. A study conducted at the Institute of HeartMath Research Center in California found that positive emotions like appreciation significantly lowered levels of cortisol.

  • Healthier Relationships - Research by U.S. psychologists Sara Algoe and Baldwin Way indicates that gratitude also can lead to better relationships. When you are grateful for people, who they are in your life, and what they do for you, your body will increase the production of oxytocin, sometimes called the “bonding hormone” and this can foster calmness and security in relationships.

  • A strong heart and ability to lose weight - According to research Emmons cites in his book Gratitude Works!, people with high blood pressure who actively express thankfulness “can achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in systolic blood pressure and decrease their dietary fat intake by up to 20 percent.”

With such great benefits of being thankful, why wouldn't we start being more intentional with gratitude?

I want to help all of us to be healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually and I believe that gratitude is one thing you can do to affect all 3.

So we have created 7 Days of Thankfulness to help us all be intentional and live healthier lives. It includes:

  • A daily focus of things to be thankful for

  • A declaration to speak over yourself and your family

  • Fun recipes

  • Activities and games to do

I am thankful for you and I am blessed that you are reading this blog. 🤗

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