Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Gratitude and Health

Dear Dr. Walt,

I saw a news report indicating that grateful people are healthier. Any tips on how someone can become more grateful? Seems like us natural born curmudgeons would be unlikely to change our stripes, eh?

—Sourpuss in Rhode Island

Dear Killjoy,

It’s true. Research has found that grateful people are healthier. Furthermore, those who work on increasing their “attitude of gratitude” also become more healthful.

Studies have found that people who maintain or work on developing what is called “an attitude of gratitude” have more energy, more optimism, more social connections, and more happiness than those who do not.

Researchers are also finding that gratitude provides similar benefits in children.

The research is said to be part of the “positive psychology” movement. I prefer to call it the “counting your blessings” movement, and I suggest the following prescription for my patients:

Start taking a “gratitude aspirin” every day for a month. And, with the holiday season approaching, it’s a perfect time to try this out.

Keep a small journal at your bedside or breakfast table. Each day, before going to sleep or starting your day, record five items for which you are grateful.

Each day record five new things. They can be new blessings or blessings from your past. Then, for a minute or two, reflect on each entry you recorded and thank God for the gifts and blessings you’ve been given and have experienced. See what happens to your feelings over the course of just a few days.

In addition, the next time something bad, irritating, or disappointing happens to you—or the next time you find yourself brooding over an unpleasant experience—stop yourself. Choose instead—right away—to find a reason to be grateful.

Try these simple (and free) prescriptions. Don’t be surprised to find your attitude change fairly quickly! When you begin to dwell on or complain about a bad event or situation in your life, you can consciously turn the thought or self-talk around. Just tell yourself, “Now tell me something good.”

Starting this holiday season, find reasons to be grateful and count your blessings. If you’re like most of my patients, you’ll be very pleasantly surprised with the results. By the way, you can measure how grateful you by taking a simple six-question test at http://tinyurl.com/lwspgh3.

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2016. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

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