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The holidays are a fantastic time to make a conscious shift away from consumption (other than calories) and focus on gratitude. Gratitude can offer a whole host of health benefits that may just transcend the holidays, increasing the quality and quantity of your life.

What can a healthy dose of gratitude do for you? Gratitude can help you to make good on your intentions. Research that appeared recently in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology confirmed that those individuals who kept a weekly gratitude journal were more optimistic about life, more likely to exercise regularly, and felt better physically compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events. So you see when you embrace gratitude as your state of being and mindset you are more likely to take better care of yourself. Behaviors like eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise and getting regular health check-ups are readily engaged in more often and consistently than those who are “less than grateful”.

The mere act of feeling grateful tends to lead to greater vitality and optimism, less stress, and lower incidences of depression. This isn’t just hearsay, this has actually been confirmed by research and holds true regardless of age, health, or income! Gratitude can set forth a powerful mind-body chemistry that allows for a greater feeling of optimism and confidence while under stress and the ability to better cope with its physical and mental implications such as protecting our immune systems.

Gratitude appears to act as fuel to allow us to keep on the path and persist in reaching our goals. An inspiring and powerful daily practice is to write down your goals and couple them with how the particular goal makes you feel in terms of gratitude. See and feel the goal as already attained and then allow yourself to experience the gratitude for the accomplishment.

Cultivating a practice of daily thanksgiving will serve to remind you and reinforce that you do have so many things to be grateful for in your life.

IMG_7034e-5About: Dr. James Rouse is a naturopathic doctor and expert in functional and lifestyle medicine. An author of nine books, host and founder of Optimum Wellness Media, and Ironman triathlete, James has coached Fortune 50 and 500 companies, MLB and NFL teams, several branches of US Government and consults for companies including BackJoy, SKOOP and Kroger Grocery. He has shared his message to audiences in the US, Europe and Asia.