Did you know that feeling grateful is good for your health? Well it is. You can learn all about it in a book published in 2007 titled, thanks! How the new science of gratitude can make you happier by Robert A. Emmons Ph.D.
Emmons is a scientist who has been researching the effects of gratitude on our physical and mental health for many years. In various studies he assigned people randomly to one of three groups. One group kept a record of things that made them grateful; another kept a record of daily or weekly hassles, and the third only recorded events or situations that occurred during the time periods in which the studies were taking place. Participants in each group assessed how they felt about their lives as a whole during the weeks they were keeping track. This showed that none of the three groups was disproportionately full of optimists or pessimists. Those in the gratitude group showed significant emotional health benefits every time and over time, not just according to them, but according to friends who were surveyed about them.
Emmons cited other studies that showed the effects of gratitude on physical health, including one which showed that “…gratitude and the related positive emotions of love and appreciation are associated with a smooth, ordered, coherent pattern in the heart’s rhythmic activity.”
Although when things go wrong it is hard to feel gratitude, Emmons argues that having a positive mindset can help increase our resilience and recovery during difficult times.
He offers 10 ways to practice gratitude, including keeping a gratitude journal, paying attention to what we take in through our senses rather than ignoring the sights, smells, sounds and tastes we experience, and watching our language to make sure we are not making a habit of sounding ungrateful much of the time.