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Practicing Gratitude

We all enjoy being around people who are naturally grateful. And most of us try to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in ourselves. But did you realize there’s a connection between being grateful and your mental and physical health?


  • A study in the journal Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being concluded that subjects who wrote down what they’re thankful for just before bed fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.

  • According to a study in the journal Personal Relationships, being thankful for the little things your partner does can lead to a stronger relationship.

  • A 1995 study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that appreciation and positive emotions maybe beneficial in the treatment of hypertension and in reducing the likelihood of sudden death in patients with congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.

  • A University of Utah study showed that gratefulness is linked with optimism, and optimism has been linked to better and stronger immune health.

  • A study presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association found that teenagers who possess a positive, grateful outlook on life are better behaved in school and generally receive better grades, integrate better socially, and experience better satisfaction with life.

  • A 2003 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude can boost prosocial behaviors, such as helping and lending emotional support to others, while a series of experiments detailed in the same journal concluded that a daily practice of listing all the things for which you’re thankful is linked with a brighter outlook on life and a greater sense of positivity.

The good news is that gratitude, like other good habits, can be learned. Try these gratitude fostering exercises.

• Keep a gratitude journal where you write down specifically what you’re thankful for.

• Make a habit of talking about the things you’re grateful for to reinforce your feelings.

• Take a break a few times a day to focus on a spirit of thankfulness.

• Find people who have made a difference in your life and tell them so (in person or in a letter).

• Surround yourself with thankful people gratitude is contagious.

Like any other good habit, gratitude gets easier with daily practice. Let today be the first day of your healthy, grateful life.

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