Positive Psychology: Be thankful and smile its good for your heart!


So these two guys walk into a bar….. they said “ow!”

You know that magic moment when your laugh turns into a cackle. Or when you have a laugh from the gut! Apparently the more you experience those laughs the better it is for your heart! According to one 2004 study that followed 999 dutch men, a more optimistic optimistic outlook on life had a significantly reduced chance for heart-attack. However, this same study found that among the 16 most pessimistic men in the study 15 of them experience vary poor cardio-vascular health resulting in either stroke or heart attack.

So how do we laugh more? How do we get more optimistic? According Dr. Robert Emmon’s at UC Davis, keeping a gratitude journal can do wonders for you!  According to a study he published in 2003 , those who kept gratitude journals exercised  more, felt more optimistic and had a greater self-report of well-being. In the field of Positive Psychology, among the many gratitude interventions two, in particular, have interesting results.

This first intervention usually ends with tears, but dont worry they are good tears! Close your eyes imagine someone who has helped you with either something vary important or for a long-time through- out your life. The only rule is that this person has to be alive. Now imagine that you are on your deathbed, write a letter to him or her thanking them. The letter has to be specific with dates, places and so forth. It also has to detail what it meant to you personally and how you felt both physically and emotionally for what ever the person did for you. After you have written that letter, you have to read it to them in person. (Feel free to post us the result and spread the love to us here at Natural News!) You levels of optimism and well-being will increase for quite sometime.

Another intervention that is championed by Dr. Emmons is keeping a nightly journal of things that you are thankful for. He reported that in  a group of adults with neuromuscular desease those who kept a gratitude journal for 21 days reported better sleep quality and a higher sense of connectedness to other people.

This research has found its way into lifestyle and weight loss programs. Some people coming out of these programs have a higher sense of well-being and feeling of positive emotions.While the application of positive psychology techniques in these programs is in its infancy it has opened the doors to alot of different ways mental health and life coaching professionals to find new innovative ways of helping people. One such program can be found at www.sunshineandherbs.com, they have implemented many of these techniques. They have combined the new weight-loss and lifestyle program started by Nature’s Sunshine called “IN.FORM” with findings in positive psychology. However, if you want  a whole graduate program on the subject you will have to go either to the University of Pennsylvania or Claremont University for the highest end research.

Try some of these techniques out and comment on this article to share with use your joy and spread the love!

Grant Weiss