MENTAL HEALTH

Gratitude helps everyone

Aug 19, 2023, 5:00 PM | Updated: 5:04 pm

Gratitude is something that can not only let someone know that you're grateful, but it is something...

writing a note to someone you appreciate not only brightens their day, but it can actually improve heart health and mental health (shutterstock) Rejoicing goes deeper than simply having gratitude, writes Susan Evans McCloud.

(shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gratitude is something that can not only let someone know that you’re grateful. It is something that can actually improve heart health and help with depression.

Kim Cameron from the University of Michigan does a study with his students to show the effects of being thankful.

So for example, in my class at University of Michigan, the students are required to keep a journal to write in their journal every day.

Half of those people, however, are assigned to write three things for which they’re grateful, or five minutes before they go to bed tonight, the best thing that happened to them during the day, the other half of the students simply Journal, the issues they faced the interactions they had the problems they solved, or whatever.

Then at the end of the semester, you give students a set of, of tests. One, for example, as you give all the students at flu shot, seven days later, those keeping a gratitude journal are healthier that is there a significant degree more antibodies in their system, then the first group, you give them a creativity task? What’s that? Well, think of all the things you can use your brick for, or a ping pong ball or something.

Those keeping a gratitude journal have a broader variety of ideas, and simply a more numerous ideas that has mental flexibility. You give them a mental acuity task, that is memorize information or remember information or come up with sophisticated decision rules for complex data, those keeping a gratitude journal, or a higher level of performance mentally, cognitively, than the other group. So it redounds to your own benefit.

How does it affect us?

He notes a well-replicated study. In the study half of a group of heart disease patients were assigned to keep a gratitude journal every day for eight weeks. The other half of these people were not told to keep such a journal. At the end of the eight weeks, they measured heart health.

The results were as you’d expect. Patients who kept gratitude journals “had not only not deteriorated, unlike the other group, but their hearts had healed significantly more in just eight weeks.” said Cameron

Another study was done of individuals who were all diagnosed with clinical depression, and all of them were put into therapy.

Half of these people were assigned to write a thank-you letter to someone each week for three weeks. Then six months later, they measured the extent to which these people still suffer from clinical depression.

Turns out, those who wrote the gratitude journal showed increased mental health. Also, they exceeded the health of the ones who didn’t write in journals.

In other words, thank-you letters proved a more significant intervention than therapy.

How to show gratitude?

Cameron notes several easy practices to show more gratitude in our lives.

One is to keep a gratitude journal. Let your children keep a gratitude journal.

I know some companies, by the way, with 10,000 employees, every employee is given a gratitude journal, and it changes things a lot.

Additionally, he added to think about others who have served you and write them a simple thank you note. 

Cameron noted that this is a very small, easily implemented practice that changes things a lot. “It changes heart rhythm changes brainwaves, it changes, performance that changes all kinds of things,” he said.

Cameron closed by saying, “Human beings, as it turns out, are inherently inclined toward being positive, being virtuous, being grateful, being compassionate, and so on.”

We want to hear from you.

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Gratitude helps everyone