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November 21, 2016

Harvard study finds strong link between gratitude and happiness

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, there is no time like the present to pause and acknowledge the things that we are grateful for. In fact, new research shows that giving thanks can actually make you happier.

A recent Harvard University study has officially linked the act of being grateful with increased happiness. Three groups participated in the experiment and were asked to respectively record (a) things they were grateful for that happened during the week, (b) things that agitated them during the week (c) weekly happenings either positive or negative.

Research showed that when groups were tasked with writing negative things or with writing about positive and/or negative things, they were less happy than those that wrote exclusively about the positive things that they were grateful for.

The study reported, “After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

The research goes on to explain that people, “express gratitude” in three ways. The first is by referring to the past to reflect on positive memories. The second, to be in the present, without taking anything for granted. The third is to maintain a positive outlook about the future.

Regardless of which way gratitude is expressed, Harvard researchers believe that it is a tool that can be cultivated and strengthened over time with practice. In other words, you can build your gratitude muscle by consciously choosing to be more grateful, and thereby you will be happier.

Dr. Martin E.P. Seligman, positive psychology expert at the University of Pennsylvania, is among the most respected researchers in the field. His study examined the effect of positive psychology interventions. When the weekly group assignment was to deliver, “a letter of gratitude to someone who had never been properly thanked for his or her kindness,” happiness scores skyrocketed amongst participants and it was reported that the, “impact was greater than that of any other intervention, with benefits lasting for a month.”

Although there is no scientific way to measure happiness, many of the published reports on this topic do acknowledge a particular connection between gratitude and wellbeing.

Don’t underestimate the power of being grateful when it pertains to your relationships either. Both personal and professional relationships are significantly enhanced when gratitude is expressed.

It is the perfect time of year to take stock of what is really important to us.

Surround yourself with people that you love and remind yourself what you are truly grateful for. Thank someone sincerely for something they have done. You just may end up thanking yourself!

I hope this reminder to take a moment to give thanks helps you as much as it has helped me.

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I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Please feel free to share below or tweet me @christiemandia.

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