Bernie Siegel, MD said, “Within each of us is a spark.  Call it a divine spark if you will, but it is there and can light the way to health.  There are not incurable diseases, only incurable people.”

Have you ever observed how some people can survive tragedy and still maintain their sanity and capacity to live a normal life? Or noticed two people can go through the same horrific accident, be the victim of a major crime and somehow one person can return to a normal life and yet the other is stuck in a  type of “victim” mode the rest of their lives?

There are some studies that suggest that a cheerful attitude and fighting spirit improve survival in sick patients, the data suggests that a positive attitude, while it may prevent disease, is not always enough to fight disease once it exists however, studies show that happiness affects the immune system and eliminates the stress response, thus eliminating inflammation.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of “The How of Happiness” shares her findings from a study examining happy people and their health.  What she found was that the happiest people were not the richest, the most beautiful, or the most successful.  Instead, the research shows the golden ticket to happiness lies not so much in changing our natural tendencies or even our life circumstances but in adopting certain behaviors that have been scientifically proven to increase happiness.  In her study, happy people shared similar traits, they devoted time to nurture their relationships with family and friends, were comfortable expressing gratitude for what they had, were the first to lend a helping hand, practiced optimism when imagining their futures, savored life’s pleasures and tried to live in the moment, exercised frequently, were deeply committed to lifelong goals and ambitions and showed poise and strength when facing life’s inevitable challenges.

In the research by Masaru Emoto and his book “The Messages of Water” showed proof that water takes on messages and reflects a beautiful crystal when positive words like, “thank you” and “love” were attached to a vial of water and then frozen to view a crystal pattern that was formed.  But he also found that vials of water with negative words like, “you fool” or “I hate you” reflected awful pictures with no crystal formation.  Since our bodies are 70-80% water, our thoughts affect our health and the expression of the body.

Dr. Brenee Brown author of the book “The Power of Vulnerability” says gratitude is a major factor for people who have gone through devastating life changing events and returned to normal life and health.

The people who heal and move on in life somehow have learned an uncanny ability to be grateful.  Dr. Brown is quick to say that she is not talking about an “attitude of gratitude” but rather the conscious daily practice of gratitude. She says “people find ways to be grateful for small things throughout the day: a sunset, the smell of fresh coffee, or the touch of a loved one.   I always tell people, the best medicine, is the type of gratitude that would cause you to fall to your knees in tears of joy.

Why is gratitude so powerful?  One reason is that emotions affect our endocrine system.  High stress increases a hormone called cortisol, causing thinning of our intestinal walls i.e. leaky gut, thinning of bone, poor digestion, depletion of key minerals and hormone deregulation.

Endorphins are released by the pituitary gland (small gland in the brain) during exercise, or love and excitement that triggers dopamine release (a happy neurotransmitter) and more good effects in the body.

Life can be hard.  And we can all find good reasons to complain but whether we are talking about the effects of water on each of our cells or the ability to recover from tragedy, gratitude is a nutrient that is underutilized.  I want to encourage you to explore the beauty and grace found in moments of genuine gratitude.  Take a moment to feel inside of you and then think of something you are truly grateful for, now close your eyes and see if you feel better/happier.   (references provided upon request)