Happiness and health are a package deal

There’s a reason I decided to devote this week’s discussions to the power of gratitude and positivity—and it’s not just because Thanksgiving is only two days away.

Times are tough for a lot of people this year—for a lot of reasons that are out of our control. But there’s one thing you can control: your mindset.

The truth is, having a sunny disposition does a lot more for your physical health than most people realize. And that’s a clinically proven fact…

Happiness does a body good 

Studies show that positivity impacts heart health and inflammation levels. Plus, it can even help to stall age-related memory loss.

But researchers recently published one of the first randomized, controlled trials on the link between a happy outlook and good health. And let’s just say the connection isn’t coincidental.

Scientists from the University of Virginia and the University of British Columbia recruited 155 healthy adults between the ages of 25 and 75 years. Subjects were randomly assigned to two groups: One group participated in a 12-week positive psychological intervention. The other served as a control.

The intervention was called Enduring Happiness and Continued Self-Enhancement (ENHANCE). Subjects either worked with a trained clinician, or used customized online platforms.

In the first three weeks, they worked to identify the goals, strengths, and values that make up the “core self.” Next, they spent five weeks focusing on the emotional regulation and mindfulness that comprise the “experiential self.”

Finally, they spent four weeks learning techniques to nurture their “social self”—the part of you that’s responsible for gratitude, positive social interactions, and community engagement.

Notably, none of the weekly modules focused on typical health-related behaviors like diet, exercise, or sleep. Yet, subjects who received the happiness intervention reported higher levels of well-being during the 12-week program.

And get this: They also reported fewer sick days than controls—even three months after the program ended.

The best part? These interventions were just as effective online as they were in-person. Which means that “happiness training” is available to you, even in the midst of a pandemic. (A quick internet search will help you find available programs.)

How giving thanks can help

Maybe the idea of a 12-week happiness intervention sounds impractical to you. If so, I’d like to remind you that the expression of gratitude carries benefits all by itself—something we can all take to the proverbial bank, through Thanksgiving and beyond.

In fact, studies have linked gratitude—whether you’re showing it or experiencing it—with greater life satisfaction, hope, and optimism. But that’s not all.

People who express or experience gratitude are less likely to suffer from physical illness. They’re also more likely to exercise and enjoy better quality of sleep.

Plus, gratitude is an important piece of the puzzle for anyone battling depression and anxiety—something many of us are suffering with in spades this year.

Scientists from Ohio State University recently reviewed 27 studies on the impact that gratitude has on symptoms of anxiety and depression. And they found that gratitude interventions like journaling did make a difference… albeit, a small one. But if giving thanks can offer even the smallest amount of help, count me in.

Of course, the pursuit of happiness doesn’t always have to start in your head—in fact, research also shows that letting the rest of your body lead the way is just as effective.

I’ll tell you all about that on Thursday. So, as always, stay tuned… and continue keeping an eye out for my special free bottle VIP code to use on my NuLogic Nutritionals website!

As a reminder, there are safe ways to enjoy the upcoming holidays in the age of coronavirus, which I outline in the current issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. Not yet a subscriber? Become one today! And in the meantime… stay safe, stay positive, and stay healthy!

P.P.S. I want to hear from you! What are you thankful for this year? Drop me a note via e-mail: feedback@drpescatore.com. Or follow me on Facebook or Instagram, and leave me responses in the comments. I’ll be sure to share some of your responses throughout the holiday season, to keep the inspiration flowing well into the New Year!

Sources:

“Health and happiness depend on each other.” Science Daily, 07/22/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/07/200722170142.htm)

“Expressing gratitude makes us healthier: Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?.” Science Daily, 04/11/2017. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170411104712.htm)

“Gratitude interventions don’t help with depression, anxiety: Being grateful has benefits, but not for these issues.” Science Daily, 03/09/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/03/200309130010.htm)


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