How Gratitude Can Improve Your Health


Written by Dr. John Beiter for

Today’s powerful guest post comes from YourTango expert Dr. John Beiter, who reminds us all to practice an attitude of gratitude not just because it’s a more positive way to live — but because your health depends on it.

I wrote my doctoral dissertation on self-forgiveness, and my research clearly demonstrated the health benefits associated with expressing gratitude.

One of my research participants described in detail all the physical pain, suffering and loss of sleep that he experienced when he failed to express gratitude. Once he was able to forgive himself, his health returned completely.

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I recently worked with a client who suffered from severe fibromyalgia and spoke about himself in negative terms almost constantly. I suggested that for one week, instead of allowing the negative thoughts to run wild, he should start expressing gratitude as much as possible. At subsequent sessions, the client reported that his health was improving and the intensity of his daily pain had lessened.

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Closely linked with gratitude is attitude. Your attitude affects your life far more significantly than almost any other choice that you can make. Choosing an attitude of gratitude is not always a popular choice, possibly because some people feel it is a submissive type of behavior, perhaps even humiliating. However, being grateful should be considered a talent that we all strive do well.

The power of gratitude is illustrated beautifully in a story in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. The story is called Blue Ribbon. In it, a teacher asks her students to give a blue ribbon to someone who has made a difference in their lives, and also to give that person an extra blue ribbon to pay it forward. The assignment was for the student to see how many people could be affected.

One blue ribbon recipient gives his extra ribbon to his son. The son then confesses that he had prepared to commit suicide that evening and that ribbon — his father’s expression of gratitude — saved his life. In the end, gratitude does not just make us feel good; it can have a truly profound impact on all of our lives.


This article originally published at How Gratitude Can Improve Your Health 

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