Paul Mills, a professor from the University of San Diego School of Medicine, has some surprising new research on the correlation between feeling gratitude and physical well-being.
Mills, a professor family medicine and public health at UCSD, decided to learn what effect having an outlook filled with gratitude has on the body.
He studied 186 people in their 60’s, asking them to fill out a questionnaire about how much gratitude they felt for the things in their lives. He also asked them about their mood, sleep patterns, and energy levels. Perhaps unsurprisingly to those in the wellness community, the people who listed themselves as having higher levels of gratitude also displayed better metrics in the categories of mood, sleep, and energy.
Mills went a step further and measured the amount of plaque in the test subjects’ blood streams – an indicator of heart health – and found that those higher on the gratitude scale also showed lower levels of arterial plaque.
Mills study is inconclusive as to why gratitude seems to have a direct effect on physical wellness, but presumes that it ties directly to the amount of stress each test subject harbors within him or her self. The attitude of gratitude seems to correlate with lower stress, resulting in better overall physical well-being.