Are Grateful People Healthier?

Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier and more optimistic, with stronger immune systems and emotional connections. Grateful people also manage the stresses of daily living more easily.

Taking time to recognize the riches in daily life — both great and small — can boost health and well-being.

Research shows that people who express gratitude are happier and more optimistic, with stronger immune systems and emotional connections. Grateful people also manage the stresses of daily living more easily.

Simple ways to live more gratefully

  • Find pleasure in small things. Even if you don’t have everything you want, you will still benefit from appreciating what you do have. Maybe you observed a star-filled sky, soaked in a soothing bath or savored a chocolate truffle. The key to contentment is finding pleasure in the little things that make up your day.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Counting your blessings rather than focusing on what you don’t have improves quality of life, especially if you put it in writing. One study showed that women who wrote in a gratitude journal at least four days a week were happier and less stressed than those who didn’t. So, take a minute to jot down three to five things you appreciate.
  • Write a thank-you note. It may seem like an outdated way to express thanks, but writing a note requires you to identify and appreciate deeds that are worthy of praise. Handwritten notes are not only a rare treat, they also offer something for the recipient to hold onto. The best thank-you notes arrive unexpectedly and focus on what you appreciate in that person.
  • Focus outward. Smile at others, perform a random act of kindness or take time out to acknowledge a job well done. Expressing gratitude in these ways goes a long way toward making the people in your life — or even strangers you encounter— feel loved and valued.
  • Practice mindfulness. Cultivate gratitude by being mindful. Say grace, meditate, give thanks — however you choose, be present in the moments you appreciate. Even difficult situations often bring some good. Research confirms that people not only experience growth on the heels of pain and suffering, they often become more grateful as a result of their struggle.

Just by paying attention to the good things that happen during your day, you will cultivate gratitude in your life. Positive feelings are contagious. Your simple gesture of gratitude just might cause a chain reaction that benefits the greater good.

Questions

Do you take time every day to be grateful for the good things in your life? Tell us what you do and how it impacts how you feel.

You can reduce your cancer risk by getting regular medical care, living smoke-free, limiting alcohol use, avoiding excessive exposure to UV rays from the sun and tanning beds, eating fruits and veggies, maintaining a healthy weight and being physically active.