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In this chaotic, ‘modern’ world we live in, there are days when it feels like we are surrounded by a sea of negativity. Yet, as we were growing up, many of us heard a version of, “Be grateful for what you have.” from our parents, teachers or elders.

Holding on to your heartWe all have things we are grateful for – our partner, our children, our work, our friends, family, material things, freedom and more.

Few people are aware that many studies confirm that a gratitude practice has enormous and long lasting health benefits.

At the Greater Good Science Center at University of California Berkeley a study of more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:

Physical:

  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less bothered by aches and pains
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Exercise more and take better care of their health
  • Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological:

  • Higher levels of positive emotions
  • More alert, alive, and awake
  • More joy and pleasure
  • More optimism and happiness

Social:

  • More helpful, generous, and compassionate
  • More forgiving
  • More outgoing
  • Feel less lonely and isolated.

Here is the link to the study:

greatergood.berkeley.edu/resources/studies?_ga=2.117122886.1543592357.1546960138-1133230143.1546960138#gratitude

An even more fascinating study was discussed in an article The Greater Good Magazine published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. The abstract for this study is called, “Does gratitude writing improve the mental health of psychotherapy clients? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial.” The study worked with 293 adults seeking psychotherapy services at the university. Many suffered from anxiety and depression.

Participants were placed into three groups. One group received psychotherapy only. The second group received psychotherapy along with expressive writing. The third group received psychotherapy along with gratitude writing.

Participants were evaluated 4 weeks and 12 weeks AFTER the conclusion of the study. The results reported by the study authors stated, “participants in the gratitude condition reported significantly better mental health than those in the expressive and control conditions, whereas those in the expressive and control conditions did not differ significantly.”

Here is the link to the abstract:

www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10503307.2016.1169332

Here is the link to the article:

greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

In addition to these results they discovered these insights:

  1. Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions
  2. Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it
  3. Gratitude’s benefits take time
  4. Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain

I would like to end this blog with the wonderful and wise words of Doc Childre:

“Since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. it takes the power of the heart.”

Doc Childre, HeartMath Institute founder.

That power, is the power of gratitude.

 

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