Gratitude Today; A Better Brain Tomorrow
Julie Wilson, MA
Thanksgiving is fast approaching. It’s the one day we surround ourselves with people we love and who love us, delicious good food, fun and relaxation. It’s the one day that we intentionally count our blessings and give thanks. And that can make us feel loving and kind and happy. Then, the next day, we’re fighting traffic on the road and shoppers in the stores; the loving, kind and happy feelings are gone.
But, new science tells us that gratitude can have long term benefits – with regular, intentional practice. Dr. Robert A. Emmons, PhD and his colleagues at the University of California Davis studied more than 1,000 people, ages 8 to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits – all of which are particularly good for our brain health:
- 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
- Higher levels of positive emotions
- More alert, alive, and awake
- More joy and pleasure
- More optimism and happiness
- More helpful, generous, and compassionate
- More forgiving
- More outgoing
- Feel less lonely and isolated.
Additionally, Dr. Emmons reports that gratitude allows us to:
- celebrate the present rather than worrying about the future or regretting the past
- blocks toxic, negative emotions (there’s even evidence, including a 2008 study by psychologist Alex Wood in the Journal of Research in Personality, showing that gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of episodes of depression.)
- increases our resilience to stress
Don’t wait for Thanksgiving to give thanks. Comment below and tell us why you’re grateful today (and every day if you wish) to spread the loving, kind and happy and make it last.
- Greater Good in Action: The Science of a Meaningful Life e-newsletter. Nov. 16, 2010. Robert Emmons, PhD.
- Dr. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology