An Attitude of Gratitude Can Help Improve Your Health
Want to be happier and richer? It could be as easy as counting your blessings.
What would happen if we extended the tradition of giving thanks, typically celebrated just once a year during the holiday season, throughout the entire year?
Such gratitude would be rewarded with better health, say researchers.
It's no secret that stress can make us sick. Gratitude, however, can do the opposite. Research over the past 10 years all connect the frequency of feeling grateful to more energy, more optimism, more social connections and better health than those who are not grateful.
People who are grateful are also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or have addictive personalities. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have a better immune system. Do you need a little help to start counting your blessings?
Try a gratitude journal ... there’s even an app for that! Write down all of the good things that have happened throughout your day.
Being grateful also forces people to overcome negative thoughts and the tendency to dwell on problems. Look for things to be grateful for and you'll start seeing them everywhere. As you gather ‘round for Thanksgiving dinner, take some time to share what you're thankful for.
Here’s some food for thought:
- What is your favorite thing about today?
- How did someone help you or make your day better?
- What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
Share Your Healthy Holiday Traditions
Secrets from Centenarians
How would you like to blow out 100 birthday candles?
More than 84,000 people living in the U.S. today have reached that mark, and the number of centenarians (100-year-olds) is expected to increase to 580,000 by 2040.* You may assume that genetics determine your longevity, but genes are just a small piece of the puzzle.
Scientists estimate that longevity is based 20 percent on genetics and 80 percent on your lifestyle choices and environment. A Day in the Life A poll of 100 people who turned 100 in 2010 provides a snapshot of the healthy habits that keep them going strong:**
More than 80 percent communicate with a friend or family member daily.
Three out of four eat nutritionally balanced meals every day.
75 percent get eight hours or more sleep.
72 percent laugh or giggle every day.
62 percent pray, meditate or engage in spiritual activity daily.
Four in 10 stay active by walking or hiking at least once a week; 31 percent stay active by gardening.
32 percent of the centenarians eat organic foods regularly.
17 percent are currently doing some type of
An increasing proportion of centenarians are also staying sharp by using new technologies such as an iPod, smart phone for texting or watching a video on YouTube.
Community Is Key
Centenarians often live in close-knit communities where stress levels are low and the connection to nature is high, with a clean environment and plenty of fresh air and good water. Researchers are learning that where you live – and how you live – are significant factors in longevity.
Some centenarians claim a single habit is the key to long life, such as doing crossword puzzles, drinking a glass of wine a day or singing in the shower. But it's far more likely that the right combinations of healthy habits, social connections, brain-boosting activities, good genes – and a little luck – are the secrets to living 100 years or more.
Lessons from the Oldest People on the Planet***
The lifespan of people who belong to communities in longevity hot-spots (also called Blue Zones) worldwide is astounding. Researchers are studying various groups of people to uncover the secrets of long life, including why disease rates are so much lower in Blue Zones than the rest of the world. Dan Buettner, an American explorer, researcher and author, has identified the following areas as Blue Zones: Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Icaria, Greece; the islands of Okinawa, Japan; and Loma Linda, CA (where a significant population belongs to the Seventh Day Adventist Church).
Common healthy traits of centenarians living in Blue Zones:
Family is the highest priority in life.
Nutrition comes from plant-based diets (especially legumes).
People are constantly in motion and physically active.
People are socially engaged with their community.
They don't smoke.
* Source: U.S. Census Bureau.
** Source: Evercare by United Healthcare May 2010 100@100 Survey,
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