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It's my  birthday today.  Birthdays are a time of reflection for many people, and certainly are for me.  Among my reflections today was how the notion of "Count Your Blessings" has had an impact on my life.  It made me wonder if there is a connection between gratitude and health, so I decided to do a little research.  Here's what I found.

Research on the connection between gratitude and health goes back decades now.  

Abraham Maslow is a famous psychologist who is known for his theories regarding the so-called "Hierarchy of Needs". In the late 1960's/early 1970's, he put forward the position that the experience of gratitude has a big impact on psychological health.  At the bottom of this post, you'll see a list of studies published in the last year or so.  Clearly, the interest in gratitude as an attribute that can influence health has not subsided.

Combating Negativity
We live in a high-pressure, high stress world. We are bombarded by news articles, blog postings and advertising that spread "bad" news and/or make us feel bad about ourselves.  Is is really surprising that mental conditions, such as depression and anxiety, are rising in incidence?

In more religious times, people would turn to faith as way of coping with adversity.  Most faiths advocate a practice of gratitude.  While religious participation has dwindled, we don't have to skip the practice of gratitude along with weekly church attendance.

Practice Gratitude
People who regularly spend a few minutes feeling grateful for whatever they perceive as positive in their lives are more resilient to stress and tend to rate themselves as happier.  Less stress and a more positive mental state contribute to better overall health.  

Makes me want to count my blessings all over again.  How about you?

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Recent Studies
(2013) Subjective well-being of Hong Kong Chinese teachers: The contribution of gratitude, forgiveness, and the orientations to happiness. Teaching and Teacher Education 32, 22-30

(2013) Preschool-aged children's understanding of gratitude: Relations with emotion and mental state knowledge. British Journal of Developmental Psychology 31:1, 42-56

(2013) Testing Strengths-Based Interventions: A Preliminary Study on the Effectiveness of a Program Targeting Curiosity, Gratitude, Hope, Humor, and Zest for Enhancing Life Satisfaction. Journal of Happiness Studies 14:1, 275-292

(2013) The Role of Gratitude in Breast Cancer: Its Relationships with Post-traumatic Growth, Psychological Well-Being and Distress. Journal of Happiness Studies 14:1, 263-274

(2013) ‘No strings attached?’: How attribution of disinterested support affects employee retention. Human Resource Management Journal 23:1, 72-90
Online publication date: 1-Jan-2013.

(2012) Life satisfaction among highly achieving students in Hong Kong: do gratitude and the ‘good-enough mindset’ add to the contribution of perfectionism in prediction?. Educational Psychology 32:5, 613-626
Online publication date: 1-Aug-2012.

(2012) The Rediscovery of Gratitude: Implications for Counseling Practice. The Journal of Humanistic Counseling 51:1, 99-113
Online publication date: 1-Apr-2012.

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