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Counting your blessings, it turns out, is a healthy thing to do. Doing so every day? We’ll, that would be 365 times better for you.

In his book, “Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier”, Dr. Robert Emmons,a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, shares how people who have an “attitude of gratitude” can experience the benefits of health.

A leading researcher in the field of positive psychology, Dr. Emmons compared those who kept daily journals listing the blessings of their day vs. those whose journals were lists of annoyances in their day.  What he found was that those who focused on the positive were more energetic, enthused, and attentive. They tended to exercise more and sleep better too.

He and other researchers in the field have discovered that people who count their blessings on a daily basis also have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, and less physical pain. They are also more optimistic, much better able to cope with stress, and take better care of their health.

Giving thanks is more than a day set aside in November, it’s a state of mind. It’s being grateful to find shelter in a sudden downpour and appreciating the rainbow after the storm.

It begins, Dr. Emmons says, by recognizing a blessing, acknowledging it, and being grateful for it. I do this every day by thanking God for the blessings in my path. If you don’t already, today’s the day to start.

So just look around you.

If you can see, be grateful.

If you’ve got the warmth of a furnace and food in your pantry, be grateful.

If you got out of bed today and walked, be grateful.

If you encountered the kindness of a family member, friend, or stranger today, be grateful.

If you got into your car with a full tank of gas and sat in traffic to drive to work, be grateful.

When we take the focus off of ourselves, we’re free to see and experience the blessings around us. So whether you choose to keep a journal or to make a mental note, make it a daily habit to be mindful of the people and things that are a blessing in your life.

You’ll be happier – and healthier too.

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