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Thankful People Are Healthier People
by Tom Goodman
November 27, 2013

"If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep."

That's the advice of Dr. Robert Emmons in his book Thanks!  It's an account of his work in the developing field of psychology called "gratitude research."

Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough decided to test whether an attitude of gratitude had any real consequence on someone's life.  They asked participants to respond to a weekly questionnaire where they self-reported their sense of well-being, physical health, and level of exercise.  But before the weekly report, some participants were told to list five things they were grateful for, some were told to list five annoying things from the past week, and some were asked simply to simply write down five "events or circumstances" from the past week.

After ten weeks, the researchers found that the group that was regularly told to express their gratitude also scored higher than other participants on overall emotional outlook, optimism, increased faithfulness to physical exercise, and better sleep.

The results of this research shows that what we're supposed to do this Thanksgiving Thursday could benefit us all year long.  If you were a subject in Emmons' research, what five things would you say you're grateful for this week?

  • I'm grateful for you, church family.  As I looked around the gym during our Thanksgiving Pot Luck Feast last Sunday, it made me glad again to "do life" with the Hillcrest Family!
  • I'm grateful for my assistant, Jami.  I'm not nearly as organized, thoughtful, or creative as she makes me look!
  • I'm grateful for my wife.  In the midst of our life's joys and griefs, she maintains faith in God, energy in her many responsibilities, and deep loyalty to family and friends.
  • I'm grateful for my country.  Never take for granted the freedoms and opportunities we have here.
  • I'm grateful, so very grateful, for my salvation.  I'm awestruck that, among all the rebellious race, God would draw this rebel to himself -- and at the cost of his own Son.

Start the habit of counting your own blessings.  There's health in it!


John Tierney, "A Serving of Gratitude May Save the Day" (

Dave Munger, "Does 'counting your blessings' really help?" (

Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, "Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life"  (

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