The Health Benefits of Gratitude

      Gratitude is an individual perspective that must be cultivated. It's a personal choice that's well worth the effort, since there is growing evidence that gratitude is directly linked to better health and well-being. Although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. Laure Redmond, self-esteem coach and author of Feel Good Naked, joined us with her favorite reasons to become more mindfully "Thank-Full":

      1. Saves Money Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and/or material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.

      2. Fewer Visits to the Doctor A recent psychological study asked participants to write a few sentences each week focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.

      3. Less Facial Wrinkles In our Contemporary American society many people have become entitled, resentful, angry and ungrateful. These negative, self-absorbed qualities create an unpleasant mindset, which translates an unhappy face. It takes 37 muscles to frown and 22 muscles to smile!

      4. More Meaningful Relationships A study of couples found that individuals who took time to express gratitude for their partner not only felt more positive towards the other person, but also felt more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. As well, managers who remember to say "thank you" to the people who work for them motivate their employees to work harder.

      5. Stress Buster Feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress. Researchers comparing the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress found that by midterm, students characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system and lower stress levels compared with their more pessimistic classmates.

      6. The Best School in the World Today is the one day that is given to you. It's the only gift that you have right now. If you learn to respond as if it were the first day or the very last day in your life, you will learn something new and invaluable.

      7. Community Strength Recent findings show that even in the face of tremendous tragedy or loss, it's possible to feel gratitude when people come together to support or help each other. This sense of increased belonging not only builds a community, it lets you know that a loving spirit has your back.

      8. Sleep Better Psychology Today reported that when people spend 15 minutes jotting down what they're grateful for in a journal before bedtime, they not only fall asleep faster, they stay asleep longer.

      For more great information, visit Laure's blog.