Thursday, May 1, 2008

An expert tells why giving thanks is good for your health

The Power of Gratitude
by Stephen Post, Cleveland, Ohio

I’m a researcher. As a professor of bioethics at Case Western Reserve University’s School of Medicine, I deal in facts. I’m also a father and a husband—a man blessed with a rich family life. Like many researchers, I’ve always felt that my clinical and my personal life were two different things. Two different worlds, really.

Then, in 2001, I created a research group called the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL), dedicated to testing and measuring the effects of love and other positive caring emotions in human life. Our findings surprised me, as I think they will you. Our studies have shown that love-related qualities—like gratitude—actually make us physically healthier.

The implications of this research have changed the way I look at my life all year ’round, but they’re especially meaningful to me during this time of year. Here are five discoveries from our work at IRUL to keep in mind as you gather together to give thanks with your loved ones.

1. Defends
Just 15 minutes a day focusing on the things you’re grateful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies.

2. Sharpens
Naturally grateful people are more focused mentally and measurably less vulnerable to clinical depression.

3. Calms
A grateful state of mind induces a physiological state called resonance that’s associated with healthier blood pressure and heart rate.

4. Strengthens
Caring for others is draining. But grateful caregivers are healthier and more capable than less grateful ones.

5. Heals
Recipients of donated organs who have the most grateful attitudes heal faster.

The above article originally appeared in Guideposts magazine. Visit the recently updated today.

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