Why thankful people are happier and healthier

Why thankful people are happier and healthier

Our friends over in North America have recently celebrated Thanksgiving but the process of giving thanks is something we could all benefit from each and every day. 

Gratitude and appreciation contribute significantly and positively to happiness and health. If this is something of interest to you then keep reading…

by Gwen Moran from FastCompany

As we slide into that time of year where we’re encouraged to give thanks and be grateful, it’s a good idea to take that advice to heart. While developing an "attitude of gratitude" might seem like just another platitude, there’s science indicating it’s actually good for us.

The formal study of gratitude’s benefits is relatively young, but researchers have found that gratitude can enhance well-being and improve romantic relationships, among other benefits. A 2011 study published in the journal Heart International, found that acute cardiac patients who had positive psychological interventions actually had better outcomes than those who didn’t.

"The people for whom gratitude is more of a trait than a state, we see that those people tend to be healthier. They tend to be happier. They have stronger social connections and stronger relationships. There’s some evidence that people who are more optimistic or have a grateful attitude have higher immune functioning," says clinical psychologist and Columbia University assistant clinical professor of Medical Psychology, Erin Olivo. Olivo is the author of Wise Mind Living: Master Your Emotions, Transform Your Life.

With those wide-ranging benefits, who wouldn’t want to be more grateful? Experts say it’s possible to train yourself to become more grateful so it’s not just an occasional state, but a regular habit.

LOOK FOR IT

While it might sound obvious, Cherie Dortch, a clinical psychologist, says that many times people are so focused on what they don’t have, they lose sight of the many reasons they may have to be grateful. Instead, shift your focus and be mindful of the everyday things that you would miss if you didn’t have them. There’s always something for which to be grateful, even during difficult times, she says.

"Sure, you have to pay the mortgage. But, you can be thankful that you have a roof over your head and the money to pay your bills," she says.

DIG FOR MEANING

Being grateful is an act of savoring, or appreciating the positive attributes of something, says Emiliana Simon-Thomas, science director of the Greater Good Science Center, based at the University of California, Berkeley, which studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being. When you mentally savor the things for which you’re grateful, you can better understand them and use them as a point of connection and the act of giving thanks becomes more powerful, she says.

Think about the act or the situation, the effort that went into making it a reality, who played a role in making it happen, and how it benefits you. For example, if a coworker came through on a project, think about the sacrifices he or she made to devote the time to the project, how the person’s creativity and skill played a role, and how the successful project affects you. Use that deeper understanding to add more meaning when you thank your coworker, Simon-Thomas says…

…keep reading the full story HERE