The research is clear. You can improve your physical and mental health by thinking this more frequently.
Geoffrey James is a contributing editor to Inc.com; in this article he says that “most people realize that the mind and body are connected into a feedback loop.” What Geoffrey has done here is link that fact to an underestimate state of mind. We’re thankful at Thought Patrol for so many things; turns out that’s healthy!
“A healthy mind in a healthy body” is why psychologists and physicians alike recommend sensible eating and regular exercise. Neuroscientists, however, recommend a different approach. Because they know that body-centric lifestyle changes (like diet and exercise) are difficult to maintain, they recommend starting with the mind. And they’ve identified the one thought that, when regularly focused upon, is most likely to propel your mind and body into an upward spiral.
That thought? Gratitude.
Yes, that sounds all crunchy granola, but there’s actually extensive research into the positive mental and physical effect of that specific thought and emotion, according a fascinating article published in the Wharton Health Care Management Alumni Association. Here are some highlights:
1. Gratitude make you more likely to exercise.
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, people who keep gratitude journals “reported fewer health complaints, more time exercising, and fewer symptoms of physical illness.”
2. Gratitude reduces your stress level.
According to a study published by National Center for Biotechnology Information“cultivating appreciation and other positive emotions showed lower levels of stress hormones [specifically] a 23% reduction in cortisol and 100 % increase in DHEA/DHEAS levels.”
3. Gratitude improves the quality of your sleep.
According to a study conducted at the University of Manchester and published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, regularly focusing on gratitude and thankfulness “improved quality of sleep and [resulted in] longer sleep hours.”
4. Gratitude increases your emotional well-being.
According to studies published in the Journal of Research in Personality, gratitude leads to lower depression and higher levels of social support while making you less likely to consider suicide.
5. Gratitude makes your heart stronger and healthier.
According to research conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, the presence of gratitude in a patient “may independently predict superior cardiovascular health.” Other studies show that gratitude increases the physical activity and therefore speed of recovery of heart patients while reducing their inflammatory biomarkers.
6. Gratitude makes you a more effective leader.
According to a Wharton study, grateful leaders “motivated employees to become more productive [because] when employees feel valued, they have high job satisfaction, engage in productive relationships, are motivated to do their best and work towards achieving the company’s goals.”]
In some of the studies, participants kept a gratitude journal where they’d list out at the end of the day all the reasons they feel grateful. That’s a good technique, but you can feel gratitude all day by simply asking yourself “what can I feel grateful for right now, right here?” Your brain will come up with an answer, trust me.
Here’s to your health!
Image Credit: GETTY IMAGES