Many people believe that feeling grateful improves emotional and physical health. Expressing appreciation for what you have rather than wallowing or grousing can certainly help one to feel happy.
Being in a good mood or feeling content doesn’t automatically translate into weight loss, but it can boost mental and physical energy which can help if you’ve resolved to lose weight and improve your health.
Gratitude Is Good Medicine
Here’s what a scientific study revealed about the connection between gratitude and health:
Patients who had organ transplants were asked in a 2007 study to keep a daily journal. Researchers at the University of California – Davis divided the patients into two groups. The scientists asked both groups to write about feelings, medication side-effects and expectations for the day ahead. One group was also instructed to write down and reflect upon five things or people for which they felt grateful.
After 21 days, the researchers ran some tests. The gratitude group scored higher than the other group on measurements for vitality, mental health and general health. The study suggested that people, even those recovering from a serious operation, improved their quality of life just by focusing on things for which they were thankful.
Gratitude, according to the authors of the study, had a protective quality, improving mental and physical health while patients dealt with a chronic health condition.
Could keeping a gratitude journal help with weight loss? Could it help you to maintain a positive attitude as you adjust to life after weight loss surgery? The answer is almost certainly “yes.” But, of course, much in life is an experiment of one. If the idea intrigues you, give it a try. It won’t hurt, and it will probably help.
How to Keep a Gratitude Journal
If you research, you can probably find a few different ways to keep a gratitude journal. Use the techniques that appeal most to you. Here are some suggestions from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, a project dedicated to science-based methods for a meaningful life:
Make a commitment: Write 15 minutes at a time, at least once each week for two weeks. The site suggests that three times a week may be the ideal for gratitude journaling.
Things to try: Write five things or people that make you thankful. These things can be minor or major. You could write about the feelings of hope and happiness you felt when the weight started coming off after weight loss surgery. Maybe you’re grateful for the laugh you had when a colleague sent you a photo of a LOL cat. The goal is to write about things or people that make you happy.
Bask in the positive emotions: Go for quality rather than quantity. Hone in on the good feelings associated with each item on the list. Think about each item and spend a few minutes in the warm glow of gratitude.
You can find more tips for keeping a gratitude journal here.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stresses and pressures of life. If you’ve been struggling to lose weight without success, you can get caught up in a cycle of negativity. Try gratitude journaling, and please join WeightWise at one of our free weight loss surgery informational seminars.