Since November is the month of giving thanks in the United States, I thought this subject of gratitude and well-being would be a great idea for the blog. Little did I know just how much information on gratitude and health was out there. Gratitude not only has the power to change our day, but research also shows it has some amazing benefits for our health.
“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other,” Randy Pausch said in his memoir, The Last Lecture.
Over the last few years, I have seen a challenge pop up during November on social media. In this challenge, you write every day in November about one thing you’re grateful for. Many people write about family, friends, traditions, and health. By the time you’re done reading this post, you might just convince yourself to give it a try—and not only for this month but for the rest of the year!
How does gratitude affect our health?
- Gratitude can improve physical health. People who are grateful are more likely to take care of their physical health. They exercise more, are more likely to attend regular check-ups, and they experience fewer aches and pains.
- Gratitude can improve relationships. A study of couples found that individuals who took the time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive toward the other person but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. 
- Gratitude can reduce stress. If you experience high levels of stress, combat it with gratitude. This WebMD article states “Gratitude, it turns out, can help us better manage stress.” Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress,” Emmons says.
- Gratitude helps with sleep. A study found that individuals who kept a daily gratitude journal at night reported half an hour more sleep than the control group. Focusing on things we’re grateful for before we go to bed instead of focusing on our worries will lead to an easier time falling and staying asleep. 
- Gratitude will make you happier. When you acknowledge the good things you have in your life, it helps you connect to something larger than yourself. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. 
With all the benefits that gratitude can have in our lives, it’s important that we try to foster an attitude of gratitude every day.
How do we cultivate gratitude?
- Keeping a journal. One study found subjects who wrote down one item that they were grateful for every day reported being 25 percent happier for a full six months after following this practice for just three weeks!
- Show people you appreciate them. Be sincere and specific when you say “thank you” to someone. Recognize the work others do and let them know how it has helped you. Thank you notes can be a fun way to communicate this, and you’ll find the more you write, the more detailed your thank-you notes will become.
- Talk with friends or family. When talking with your family, ask them what the best part of their day was. What made them happy? Making gratitude a discussion can help promote positive connections and community.
- Meditate. Meditation is a great way to help calm your mind and think on things you are grateful for. Even if it’s just for five minutes, try to focus on your day and what you’re thankful to have.
- Make a gratitude board. What’s a gratitude board, you ask? It’s similar to a vision board, but the purpose is to use images that depict what you’re grateful for. Find sayings that reflect gratitude and include pictures of family members and activities you love.
That was a lot of information, so just to recap:
Gratitude can influence how well we take care of our physical health, improve our relationships, reduce stress levels, help us sleep better, and make us happier.
After researching these benefits of gratitude I will be challenging myself to appreciate others more and show gratitude. For starters, I’m grateful for this USANA family and the amazing community everyone has built together.
Now, how about that 30-day challenge?
What are you grateful for?
 HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL, Harvard Health Publications, In Praise of Gratitude. 2011. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude
 Emmons, Robert A. and McCullough, Michael E. Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2003. Vol 84(2) p381. http://www.stybelpeabody.com/newsite/pdf/gratitude.pdf
 Simon, Harvey B. M.D., HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL. Harvard Health Publications. Giving thanks can make you happier. 2011. http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier
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