Health Advocate Blog

The Potential Health Benefits of Gratitude

Thanksgiving isn’t the only day to offer thanks for all that we have—research indicates that regularly expressing our gratitude may have a positive impact on our health.  

Dr. Robert Emmons, the “world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude” and a professor of psychology at the University of California, is the author of Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier.  Dr. Emmons notes that “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, and regular physical examinations. Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress.”  

To cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” that can boost your sense of well-being and your physical health, try incorporating these activities into your routine:

Create a gratitude journal.  Every day, write down five things that happened that day for which you feel grateful. Maybe it’s your boss congratulating you on a job well done, seeing a beautiful sunrise as you woke up, eating a favorite meal for dinner, or your child telling you she loves you. Make this journal writing a daily habit.

Try a gratitude visit. This exercise, recommended by Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests writing a 300-word letter to someone who changed your life for the better. Be specific about what the person did and how it affected you. Deliver it in person or, if that’s not feasible, send it to them. This approach allows you to not just be in touch with your gratitude, but also to share it with a mentor.

Pay it forward. Every day, choose at least one person in your life—whether it’s your spouse, a co-worker, or friend—and tell them something you appreciate about them. (Remember to be sincere, though—give a compliment because you mean it, not because you need to reach a daily quota.)  You will not only increase that person’s happiness and sense of self-worth, but you’ll also feel good about yourself for making someone you care about happy.

Remember, if you are a Health Advocate member, our Personal Health Advocates are happy to help you resolve your healthcare and insurance-related issues and questions, such as locating in-network providers, securing second opinions, transferring medical records, resolving billing and claims issues, and more. We’re always at your side—and always grateful for the opportunity to help you.