People Who Are Thankful Live Longer, According to Science

As we gather 'round our tables to give thanks today, we're engaging in tradition. Every year we take turns saying what we're thankful for, recognizing the good in life, and accepting our circumstances with gratitude. The act is ceremonious, shared with family and loved ones as we take a time from our busy lives to enjoy each other's company and take a moment to appreciate everything for which we're grateful. But one could argue that this practice of positivity shouldn't simply be an annual occurrence. Approaching life with gratitude has several positive benefits.

In preparation for Thanksgiving, Forbes investigated how giving thanks affects our lives—beyond tradition, on a scientific level—impacting our happiness and even our longevity. The article references the work of University of California Davis psychology professor Robert Emmons, who discusses the positive psychology movement, noting how mental health professionals are finding that virtues like gratitude are beneficial to our health. "Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, [and] regular physical examinations," says Emmons, thereby leading to higher chances of longevity. Studies have consistently found that gratitude and positive emotions benefit physical health and coping and can also help individuals deal with daily stressors. Stress is the culprit of so many health issues, yet the simple act of feeling thankful can help combat it.

So as you sit down with your loved ones this year, sharing what exactly you're thankful for, consider instilling this tradition into your everyday attitude and actions. While the feast and family gathering can be reserved for the annual occasion, the act of consciously practicing gratitude can become a habit of your everyday routine, leading to more positive thinking, a healthier existence, and increased life span.

How will you be giving thanks? Head to the comments to share your Thanksgiving plans and tell us what you're most thankful for this year.