How Being Thankful Can Make You Healthy

With all the talk of food this week, I didn’t want to give the impression I’d missed the forest through the trees. Primal or traditional eats aside, it’s really about gratitude, isn’t it? Gratitude for those we love, for all we have, and for how far we’ve each come in one way or another. For my part today, I’m grateful for the love of my family, the benefit of health, and the continuing inspiration and support of the MDA community. While I appreciate the many emails I get from readers saying how the PB has changed their lives, this community has, indeed, changed mine. I want to thank you all today for reading and contributing. I value the wisdom, perspective, challenge, humor, and personal stories you have offered here over the years. MDA would not be what it is without you – the active, intelligent, and supportive community behind it.

As so many of us give thanks today, we’re doing more than our spirits good. Research has demonstrated that the act of gratitude – and it really is an action, isn’t it? – offers a myriad of benefits to our physical and mental health. We’re talking a greater sense of well-being and more hope for the future, but there’s more. In a number of studies, participants who kept gratitude journals (on a daily or weekly basis) reported higher health and personal goal realization, enhanced mental and physical energy, and better sleep quality and duration. Thankfulness can act as a key motivator for self-care as well. Fostering gratitude appears to boost people’s likelihood to engage in exercise. It also decreases their experience of physical ailments– everything from pain to colds – while increasing their general vitality.

Although we in the U.S. pause today to offer thanks, the day can serve as a reminder to focus on the good in our lives and world. It fosters a sense of gratitude certainly. Yet, it also offers each person a unique window into and more personal appreciation for other family members’ experiences. Gratitude in that sense starts with personal reflection but maybe fosters something larger – compassion, patience, benevolence. The only thing better than offering thanks today is fostering the mindset every day. The exercise can clearly have a deep and lasting impact on your life – and health.

Thank you once again, MDA readers, and (to all our U.S. readers) have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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38 thoughts on “How Being Thankful Can Make You Healthy”

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  1. Live this: Have an attitude of gratitude! Happy Thanksgiving Mark and the entire MDA community.

    1. Amen.

      Writing in a gratitude journal daily has done wonders for my health. Taking about 3 minutes a day to count your blessings and writing it down is a blessing in and of itself.

  2. I keep a gratitude list folded up in my wallet so I can pull it out and read it if a pity party gets started in my head. Excellent post, Mark. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. I’m below 60 kilos (132 pounds) today for the first time in a long time and very happy about that – I’m 6 ft.
    Now I just need to build more muscle!

    1. 132 lbs. seems a bit light for a six footer. I’m curious about that. Seems to me that the free primal fitness e-book will help you build some lean muscle mass and put on some weight. You can download it right here on this page.

      1. Yes, I have that, thanks. The weight is just the way I am genetically supposed to be – my father and his brother were skinny, my two sons are exactly the same. My mother always got called in by the school nurse, because I weighed about half of what I was supposed to relative to height – back then, they didn’t worry about fat kids, they worried about malnourishment 😀

  4. I should explain the above: I’ve only weighed 5 pounds more than I wanted to in recent years – slimming down was never a problem to me. But I want to get my thin muscles to have more volume and shape and strenght. Any suggestions?

      1. It doesn’t seem to help. Maybe they are not heavy enough, or maybe I don’t do it often enough.
        I have the idea that my muscles are of a ‘type’ destined to never bulk up.
        Does such a thing exist?

        1. No. Start a thread, but you’re *PROBABLY* not lifting heavy enough. Or eating enough.

        2. Thanks. I think I’m eating enough. Must do better with the heavy lifting 😀

        3. At 6ft and 132 lbs, it sounds like you could benefit a lot from weight training.
          I am of slender physique too, and in my experience, it takes more time for your body to “learn” that it must grow in response to the stimulus, than it takes for naturally bulkier people.
          I think that a big part of your body learning to respond to the stimulus is nutrition. You may think that you’re eating enough because you feel full, but it may not be enought to produce muecle growth. At first you may have to force yourself to eat more, but as you increase the weight you lift, it will feel natural to eat a lot.
          I have consitently been lifting heavy for about 6 months, and I have just recently felt that I can eat more food than before without forcing myself, and and I’m making gains at the gym and the scale too =).
          If you haven’t, you should read Mark’s “How to gain weight and build muscle” article –>>

        4. Thanks for the good advice. I’ll read that. It’s not even that I wan’t to get bulky, I just want to be stronger relatively. I eat three eggs for breakfast/lunch combined most days, fruit in the afternoon and a big dinner with lots of meat and veggies, so at least I’m pretty sure I get enough protein. I haven’t lifted consistently, so that’s probably it. I do planks front and sideways, but that’s not ‘lifting heavy’, I can see that. I’ll just have to get my butt in gear.

        5. Thanks again – that article really has all the answers. I don’t know what I’ll do for ‘testicles’, but I’ll definitely start lifting heavier more consistently (or else shut up about it).

  5. Great words once again, Mark.
    I’m thankful I found the Primal Life. I’m thankful my spouse not only supports it, but has adopted it for herself as well.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who make this forum possible.

  6. Since finding the PB lifestyle I now pay more attention to all the things I’m thankfull for. I am happier and healthier because of it. And I am thankfull to you, Mark. You have changed my life. Oh…and I’m thankfull I get to show up to Thanksgiving dinner 60 lbs lighter and will have a bunch of jeoulus family members. Thanks again Mark, you saved my life.

  7. For me, everyday is a holiday. Or I try to make it one. This year I’ll give thanks for my stomach not howling like a crazed wolf; because I made it so.

  8. I am thankful for my child who just chose to walk with me in the cold, beautiful outdoors rather than sit at home and play his DS.

  9. Receiving gratitude this morning made me feel good and in turn feel grateful for the turn of events in my life that have occurred as a result of living Primal … I received this from my 18 year old daughter, until last week we had been estranged since she left without warning July 09 … Primal has given me a clarity of thought and a freedom from bipolar symptoms that have allowed me to renew our contact … she is around 28 lbs heavier than when she left and quite depressed …

    ‘Lee said just now that my legs are looking slimmer or as he says … less flabby! 🙂 For some reason it made me feel good 🙂 even tho it means he thought I was large before! I don’t care now! And I can now walk down the sweets and bisuits aisle at work without wanting them! Thank you for convincing me to do this. I feel amazing!’

    Later on she sent ‘whoa I’ve lost 3 kg this is the best motivation ever’.

    So, thank you Mark, that’s another of my family back on the road to health and happiness.

    Have a great Thanksgiving

  10. I am thankful that my precious son enjoys my paleo cooking…despite what his father says!

  11. Happy Thanksgiving. We give thanks to Mark and the whole Primal Community. You guys have helped change our lives for the better.

    Hey, that actually is pretty therapeutic!

  12. Mark, you’ve mentioned “sleep duration and quality” twice in on sentence. 🙂

    Good post anyway!