Every once in a while you see an article with great practical advice, and this is one of them. I wanted to share with M* readers because this article really cheered me up. Yes, even in our sometimes dark times there is good news, and here it is: being grateful is likely to improve your health. Read on:
Gratitude is a simple practice that can have profound effects on your health and well-being. Positive effects linked to gratitude include social, psychological, and physical benefits, which increase the more you make gratitude a regular part of your daily routine.
“The limits to gratitude’s health benefits are really in how much you pay attention to feeling and practicing gratitude,” said neuroscientist Glenn Fox, a gratitude expert at the University of Southern California. “It’s very similar to working out, in that the more you practice, the better you get. The more you practice, the easier it is to feel grateful when you need it.”
Fox grew deeply interested in gratitude after his mother’s death from ovarian cancer. During her illness, he would send her studies on the benefits of gratitude in cancer patients, and she kept a gratitude journal in her final years.
In one example, 92 adults with advanced cancer engaged in mindful gratitude journaling or routine journaling. After seven days, those who kept a gratitude journal had significant improvements in measures of anxiety, depression, and spiritual well-being, so much so that the researchers concluded that “mindful gratitude journaling could positively affect the state of suffering, psychological distress, and quality of life of patients with advanced cancer.”
“Grateful people tend to recover faster from trauma and injury,” Fox told The Pulse. “They tend to have better and closer personal relationships and may even just have improved health overall.”
As it turns out, putting your gratitude in words can be an effective way to improve your mental health. Among 293 adults who sought psychotherapy services, those who engaged in gratitude writing reported significantly better mental health after four and 12 weeks than those who didn’t write or who wrote about their thoughts and feelings.
Modern-day prophets have told us this hundreds of times, of course. This is one of my favorite talks on gratitude:
Gratitude is a Spirit-filled principle. It opens our minds to a universe permeated with the richness of a living God. Through it, we become spiritually aware of the wonder of the smallest things, which gladden our hearts with their messages of God’s love. This grateful awareness heightens our sensitivity to divine direction. When we communicate gratitude, we can be filled with the Spirit and connected to those around us and the Lord. Gratitude inspires happiness and carries divine influence. “Live in thanksgiving daily,” said Amulek, “for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.”4
There you have it. There are practical and spiritual benefits to gratitude, and the more often we express them out loud the more we will take advantage of the benefits. This is such an important lesson for our times.
I believe that gratitude is also the great inoculation against pride. It is difficult for a truly grateful people to also be a prideful people.
Pursuant to this, I periodically try to spend an entire prayer just thinking of things to thank for and ask for nothing. It’s an illuminating exercise, and one I suggest for everyone.
So simple and yet so powerful. I’ve tried to teach this principle to my children and it is clear that the most grateful are also the most happy even though they are not the most prosperous.
I’ve shared this link on social media the past 3 years, trying to get the word out about gratitude: