The Effects of Gratitude and positive thinking on Health
Gratitude and its close cousins meditation and positive thinking have a whole host of scientifically proven health benefits.
First, being fully aware of and grateful for your body makes you more likely to take care of it. Daily affirmation of being thankful for good health will make you value your health more, and will likely result in a healthier lifestyle.
The average person doesn’t pay any attention to what they eat, what they let inside their bodies, or how much exercise they put in their daily routine. But after you start practicing the attitude of gratitude, you are going to be better than that. Once you become truly grateful for your health, you will find it easy to start taking steps to maintain it.
Second, if you use — as I recommend — gratitude as a gateway to meditation and positive thinking, you experience the full health benefits of meditation as well. Numerous studies show that meditation reduces stress, reduces anxiety, and promotes general emotional health. Positive thinking has been proven to be a key component in lowering your blood pressure, decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, and prolonging your lifespan. Meditation can help you stay sharp, and it can aid in reducing age-related memory loss and decreased attention span.
In fact, meditation can do a lot more than that. Doctors and scientists are working hard trying to discover just how far the healing power of the mind can take you. Ancient Tibetans believed that gratitude changes the body on a cellular level, and in fact, scientists today are beginning to notice that this is true.
A study conducted by Linda Carlson of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Alberta, Canada states that meditation can have healing properties.
According to a report on Dr. Carlson’s work in “The Scientific American,” her study took 88 participants who were breast cancer survivors for at least 2 years and divided them into three groups. These survivors averaged around 55 years in age. The study continued for 12 weeks, and started with a blood sample from each participant to catalog the present condition of each test subject.
The first group participated in 90 minutes of self-awareness exercises per week, followed by Hatha Yoga once a day for 45 minutes; the second group met for 90 minutes just to discuss their feelings and emotions, and the third group only went through one 6-hour session revolving around stress techniques.
The first two groups actively participated in mindful meditation, while the third group concentrated on stress relief alone. Blood samples were taken again at the end of the study, and results showed marked differences between the three groups.
The results were astounding, as there were noticeable changes in the cells of the women who participated in meditation and support groups, compared to the women who only attended a 6-hour stress management course. The first two groups had longer telomeres — pieces of DNA that are located at the very end of a chromosome and help safeguard our genetic code. When telomeres get too short, the cell dies. Longer telomeres are associated with good health and decreased age-related decline.
“We already know that psychosocial interventions like mindfulness meditation will help you feel better mentally, but now for the first time, we have evidence that they can also influence key aspects of your biology,” Carlson said as a result of the study.
Wow! Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it, that our mind is powerful enough to control the DNA in our cells? But now you know what scientists know — that it is, in fact, possible.
I’m very grateful, Dear Reader, that you have stuck around until this part. So far, I’ve just talked about how important gratitude is to our well-being, and I hope you can use all that new information to improve your life.
But now it’s time for the next step on our journey together. In the next few chapters, I’m going to get into the details of how to practice gratitude and gratitude-based meditation.
Feel free to go to the next posts on this series of gratitude and positive thinking.
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