Health Tips: Gratitude

According to filmmaker Doug Vermeeren, positive psychology calls for science and psychological practice to be concerned with strength, not just weakness; to be as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as with healing pathology.

“People can become suspicious when you tell them that they can change their lives with a simple shift in perspective…but I’m just one of many who have experienced a measurable life change with gratitude,” says Vermeeren. He’s the creator of the new film, The Gratitude Experiment, which tells stories demonstrating the powerful effects of gratitude on people’s lives.

Vermeeren says three areas can be transformed with gratitude:

Attitude: Gratitude can help us overcome any problem or hardship. It gives us perspective on what’s important, what we truly value, and what we have right in front of us. In our small corner of this vast universe, we find the most miraculous thing of all: life. No matter what situation we are in, or worries we face, we can always be grateful that we are alive on this beautiful planet. There is a world of possibilities open to whatever attitude we bring to it.

Health: The positive thinking triggered by gratitude has proven health benefits, including strengthening the immune system, reducing stress and depression, reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, better coping skills during hardship, and overall increased sense of well-being, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Relationships: We are social creatures, hardwired to work, communicate, and interact with each other. Most of us understand the value of being there for each other, especially during hard times. However, research from the University of California-Santa Barbara shows that it’s also crucial to be proactively positive during normal or good times, as well. Positive reinforcement during good times reinforces bonds and assures a friend, family member, or spouse that you’ll be there during hard times.