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An Attitude of Gratitude for Heart Health

July 6, 2010

I found a great article called “Thank Your Way to a Happy Heart” which is so fabulous, I only want to offer you some teasers, so you’ll read it for yourself. In a nutshell, the article says that by shifting our emotions from negative, stressful feelings like frustration and anger, to positive ones like gratitude, appreciation and love, we do our hearts and our bodies a big favor. When we make that shift, we’re moving from the sympathetic to a parasympathetic state.

heart health optimismI always thought being sympathetic was a good thing, so I had to look it up. Wikipedia explains that, “The sympathetic division [of the autonomic nervous system] typically functions in actions requiring quick responses. The parasympathetic division functions with actions that do not require immediate reaction.”

Stress puts our bodies into a fight or flight state. The parasympathetic state is much easier on a person physiologically, according to Rollin McCraty, director of research at the Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California. By enhancing the function of the entire cardiovascular system, and it kicks the body's natural regenerative system into gear. Your body is much better able to heal and rejuvenate in this state.

I found another doctor who agrees, and wasn’t mentioned in the article. Dr. William Davis , a cardiologist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin said on his Heart Scan Blog, “Happiness, contentment, and gratitude are ‘parasympathetic’ states characterized by slower heart rates, deeper respiration, greater variation in beat-to-beat heart rates (a powerful predictor for health and the basis for the HeartMath program of Lew Children, lower blood pressure, and even a subtle change in brain waves. In other words, happiness is not just a mental and emotional state, it is a constellation of physical phenomena.”

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and enjoy a happy healthy heart!