Practicing Gratitude

Practicing gratitude is like exercising, says Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California-Davis: Use it, and you won’t lose it, even when times are tough, as they are for many folks right now.

  • People with high blood pressure not only lower their blood pressure, but feel less hostile and are more likely quit smoking and lose weight when they practice gratitude. In one study, patients just called a research hotline once a week to report on the things that made them grateful.
  • People who care for relatives with Alzheimer’s disease feel less stress and depression when they keep daily gratitude journals, listing the positive things in their lives.
  • Those who maintain a thankful attitude through life appear to have lower risks of several disorders, including depression, phobias, bulimia and alcoholism.
  • Most people can lift their mood simply by writing a letter of thanks to someone. Hand-deliver the letter and the boost in happiness can last weeks or months.

Practicing gratitude in these systematic ways changes people by changing brains that “are wired for negativity, for noticing gaps and omissions,” Emmons says. “When you express a feeling, you amplify it. When you express anger, you get angrier; when you express gratitude, you become more grateful.”

And grateful people, he says, don’t focus so much on pain and problems. They also are quicker to realize they have friends, families and communities to assist them in times of need. They see how they can help others in distress as well, he says.

We want to take a moment to express our gratitude to you, our practice members. You have placed your trust into our hands, and we are humbled. You have allowed us to partner with you in your life’s journey, and we have been blessed.