Health Benefits of Gratitude

Photo: Our grateful thanks to Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash!

Marcel Hernandez, N.D.

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. – Kahlil Gibran


For nutritionists and naturopaths, the holidays are a nightmare from hell.

Alcohol, rich entrees, and high-calorie sweets present fierce challenges to our immune systems and our waistlines.

Marcel Hernandez, ND

And along the way, the true meanings of the season – joy, thankfulness and the coming of the light – can be lost in the orgy of food and drink.

Louise Chang, MD, asks, “What would happen if we extended the tradition of giving thanks, typically celebrated just once a year during the holiday season, throughout the entire year?”

Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis, believes “positive psychology” has a profound positive effect on our physical health.

Emmons’ research has shown that people who consistently approach life with an attitude of gratitude tend to take better care of themselves, handle life’s challenges with less stress, and are more optimistic – all attitudes that, as solid research has shown, boost the body’s immune system.

Recent studies have shown that cultivating a grateful attitude helps us sleep better, reduces anxiety and depression, empowers us to express kind responses when we’re provoked, and frees us to take greater satisfaction from our life.

What if you aren’t feeling particularly grateful? Researchers say that, for most of us, an attitude of gratitude comes with practice and repetition.

Photo: Grateful thanks to photographer Amadeo Valar on Unsplash!

Here are some simple ways to kick-start your Gratitude Attitude practice:

  • Scribble down five things you feel grateful for. Count your blessings – it couldn’t be easier! One option: pick a relaxed time, perhaps Sunday morning, when you recall and record five things that happened in the previous week (or anytime) that you’re grateful for. Or just carry a small pad and record your grateful feelings anytime.
  • Express gratitude and appreciation often, even for the infinitesimally tiny events in your life. Start with family and friends, even if you don’t feel particularly close. You’ll be surprised by the transformations that will happen as a result of small expressions of kindness and thoughtful actions.
  • Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests a ”gratitude visit.” Write a brief letter of thanks, no more than about 300 words, to someone who’s had a positive influence on your life. Seligman recommends expressing as clearly as you possible how the person influenced you, and then delivering the letter in person and reading it slowly, aloud.
  • Dr. Emmons says that once you’ve got the gratitude tap turned on and running, you’ll be powerfully motivated to go deeper. (‘Cause gratitude just feels great.)
  • In our family, we conduct an appreciation ceremony to life our hearts at birthdays and other special events. For a birthday, we’ll each express why we appreciate the person whose birthday we’re celebrating. You can practice the ceremony anywhere people are gathered in joyful celebration. Don’t forget to tell your loved ones what they mean to you, at any opportunity.
  • Start the day with an affirmation of gratitude. In our house we often put Post-Its with positive affirmations on our bathroom mirror, so while we’re looking at our faces we’re tuning into the positive affirmation.

Try this right now. Think of three good things in your life and write them down. Now think of three people you feel close to, and write down one thing you appreciate about each of them. The short exercise of focusing on the love you feel will immediately lift your spirits.

Gratitude is an exceedingly powerful bummer-buster and mood-modifier that’s always available to us, in every circumstance. Even a moment’s appreciation when we aren’t feeling particularly thankful can start our heart’s inner mood elevator. When we transform our own feelings inwardly, the world transforms for us, barriers between us melt away, and we intuitively feel that we’re profoundly bound to each other and to the Divine.

Visit to learn more about gratefulness, send a gratefulness ecard, light a gratefulness ecandle, and subscribe to the eword of the day.


For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic.