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Kevin & Jackie Freiberg

The Value of Gratitude

It might just save your life.

Gratitude and Appreciation is Essential to Your Mental Health

Gratitude and appreciation take up space in your brain that fear might otherwise occupy. Neurology has proven that fear and appreciation CAN NOT reside in the brain at the same time. These two states may rotate in and out of the brain, but they are mutually exclusive. Gratitude and appreciation are among the highest and purest forms of love because they demand nothing and depend on nothing. Perhaps this iswhy the scriptures say—on more than one occasion—that perfect love casts out all fear.

Gratitude and Appreciation Can Repair Your Heart

At the University of Michigan, Barbara Frederickson, Ph.D., conducted studies showing that positive emotions such as love and happiness have the ability to repair cardiovascular damage. In one research project she created negative feelings in people by showing them disturbing films and engaging them in frustrating activities. The result was higher levels of cardiovascular distress (higher blood pressure, vascular restriction and increased heart rate.) in each of the subjects.

In an effort to bring participants back to normal levels of cardiovascular functioning, Frederickson broke the same group into three subgroups. One subgroup watched comedies intended to stimulate positive emotions, the second subgroup watched films with neutral content and the third subgroup was simply given time to get back to normal cardiovascular levels without watching any film. Only one subgroup—the comedy group—got back to normal cardiovascular levels. Everyone else remained at a higher level of cardiovascular distress.

Gratitude and Appreciation Can Improve Your Heart Rhythm

Researchers at a California science foundation, the Institute of HeartMath, monitored heart rhythm while people were experiencing frustration and again when they were experiencing appreciation. Anger and frustration caused a jerky, abnormal heart rhythm while appreciation created a smooth, even rhythm. Smooth, structured heart rhythms are indicative of better cardiovascular functioning and improved balance in the nervous system.

Gratitude and Appreciation Can Improve Digestion and Stimulate Immune Activity

In the same study researchers discovered that appreciation stimulates the autonomic nervous system, the involuntary part of the nervous system that controls automatic functions such as digestion, immune activity, hormonal output and blood vessel constriction.

Hatred and Bitterness Over-stimulate the Sympathetic Nervous System

Chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system weakens the immune system and contributes to sleeplessness, hypertension, muscle pain, inflammation of the colon, ulcers, heart failure, stroke, memory loss, and headaches. It also leads to diminished cognitive function—literally leading to dead people working.