Gratitude is Good for the Soul and Helps Heal the Heart
Just as chicken soup is good for the soul, gratitude is good for the heart, literally. With the hyper awareness of heart risk and diseases, a common explanation for heart condition is “you have too much stress”. Professor Paul Mills of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School Medicine conducted a study in order to see if feeling gratitude made a difference to at-risk heart patients.
Mills conducted his study with 186 men and women with an average age of 66 who already had some damage done to the heart. To begin, each person filled out a questionnaire on how grateful they felt for everything in their lives. He then asked half of the patients to keep a journal a few days out of the week and write two or three things they were grateful for, from family and friends, to work and home life. Mills followed up with the 40 tested patients and found that those who wrote in their journals had reduced inflammation levels, improved heart rhythm and had a decreased risk of heart disease.
Based on the report, it can be concluded that expressing one’s gratefulness for family and life, etc., puts at risk patients in a less stressed state of mind. Specifically, the act of expressing gratitude through language is relatively proven to be therapeutic and yield positive results in heart health.
Having an open heart, meaning opening yourself up to others, leads to positive effects of health. According to Dr. Peter Norvid at Adventist Hinsdale and La Grange Memorial hospital, “Optimistic people live longer, have closer personal relationships and are able to deal with the negative things that happen to them in a way that allows them to continue to be able to be there for others so that others can help them”.
In a study published by Mayo Clinic researcher Toshihiko Marvta, MD, 839 patients were observed over 30 years to test whether pessimism is a risk factor for early death. It was tested that those who were considered pessimists had a higher mortality rate and their negative outlook related directly to their mortality.