It’s well known that giving thanks when someone does something for you is the nice thing to do.
But recent research indicates that it isn’t just good for your social reputation- being grateful can actually make you a lot healthier physically, too.
Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted a recent study with 186 men and women with an average age of 66.
Dr. Mills choose people who already had damage to their heart either due to years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of a heart attack or even a serious infection.
During the study, the participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire, rating how grateful they felt for certain things, like the people, places or things in their lives.
The results? Mills found that the more grateful people were, the less depression they had. More grateful people also had more energy and slept better than those who were less grateful.
The kicker came though, when Dr. Mills asked half the participants in the study to keep a journal, making them write down and reflect on two or three things they could be grateful for, anything from good food to family to an acceptable job.
Did it change anything? Sure did.
After two months of grateful journal-keeping, Mills re-tested all the participants and found that those who wrote in their journals had reduced inflammation, improved heart rhythms, and a decrease in risk of heart disease.
Mills attributes the change to a reduction in stress, which he believes to be a large factor in heart disease.
“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”
So, looks like it isn’t just laughter that’s the best medicine. Sounds like something to be thankful for.