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A Consistent Gratitude Practice Makes You Happier and Healthier

September 1, 2013

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Dr. Robert A. Emmons, a University of California, Davis professor, conducted eight years of intensive research on gratitude and found that people who view life as a gift and consciously acquire an "attitude of gratitude" will experience multiple advantages, as outlined in his bestselling book, Thanks! How The New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.

One of his specific findings: People who were in the gratitude condition felt fully 25% happier, more optimistic and confident. They even exercised an additional 1.5 hours a week!

When you practice gratitude, you become more optimistic. That, in turn, makes you healthier and happier, boosting your personal and professional life.  Gratitude raises your vibration; since everything is energy, that makes you feel even more connected, resulting in clearer thinking and more decisive action.

We also attract just what we put out to the Universe, so if you exude an air of optimism and happiness, that will be what you receive.  On the other hand, if you’re morose and negative, well, you’ll receive that, too.

Here are four ways to increase your gratitude quota:

Keep a gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write down three to five things from the day for which you feel grateful. Even the most negative situation has a positive somewhere.

Express your gratitude. When someone does something nice, say "thank you"--and mean it. It might not seem like much of a gesture—but it could mean the world to someone else.

Look for what is right about a situation, not what's wrong. There’s an old saying that goes like this:  The optimist sees an opportunity (for growth and creativity) in every circumstance, while the pessimist always sees an obstacle. Which one do you want to be?

Practice gratitude with your family and friends. Encourage each family member to report one thing that happened that day that they feel grateful for. When you hear a friend moaning and complaining, challenge him or her to find the hidden opportunity or silver lining to the situation.

Irene Ross is a 2010 graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She is author of the e-book, Sugar’s Sour Story, and of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways to Fire Up Your Day:  Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, and also writes a popular pet wellness blog.