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A Grateful Heart is a Healthy Heart

It’s Thanksgiving and many of us are going to indulge in a feast as we share expressions of gratitude.

U.C. Davis psychologist Robert Emmons, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology and author of the book Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happieris considered a pioneer in the field of “positive psychology” — a discipline that focuses less on illness and emotional problems and more on health-inducing behavior — Emmons makes a convincing case for the upside of maintaining a thankful attitude.

Eric Nelson writes in the On Being Blog: “In one of Emmons’ studies, participants were divided into three groups. At the end of each week one group wrote down five things they were grateful for. Another group kept track of daily hassles. And a control group listed five events that had made some impression on them. In the end, Emmons discovered that those in the gratitude group generally felt better about their lives, were more optimistic about the future and — perhaps most importantly — reported fewer health problems than the other participants.”

Scientifically speaking, regular grateful thinking can increase happiness by as much as 25 percent, while keeping a gratitude journal for as little as three weeks results in better sleep and more energy.

Stay positive, stay grateful, stay healthy, stay happy.