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Ariana Huffington of Huffington Post fame has written her latest book, Thrive, about long-held beliefs and practices that science now supports. She orients these practices around four pillars: well being, wisdom, wonder, and giving & compassion.
The beliefs and their scientific foundations are as follows:
Helping others can improve your health: research shows that helping others and having meaning in life, a eudaimonic (as opposed to hedonic) form of happiness, can produce more antibodies to keep the body strong.
Acupuncture can balance and restore the body: working with qi or chi, the body’s own energy, this technique can relieve migraines, arthritis and chronic pain. Science now proves that acupuncture really works.
We thrive in communities: the research indicates that people with stronger social relationships have a 50% greater likelihood of survival. These findings hold across age, sex and initial health status!
Tai chi can improve many health conditions: another modality that works with the body’s own energy, tai chi can alleviate symptoms associated with heart disease, arthritis, breast cancer, and other conditions, according to studies.
Accepting what we can’t change reduces suffering: this holds true especially for the aging, who must relinquish control over some aspects of their life, and adapt to others. Research suggests this ability to let go enhances their happiness.
Love matters most: a 75-year study concluded that love, and the ability to stay open to loving relationships, is the most important thing in life.
And there we have it: science has caught up to the ancient wisdom of our ancestors.
Avoid entitlement: instead, cultivate a practice of receiving life’s gifts and giving to others in ways that acknowledge how interconnected life is
Appreciate people: not just things, because showing our gratitude can uplift loved ones and strangers too
Be specific: say exactly what you are grateful for
Be grateful when it feels like you can’t: sometimes appreciating hardships can transform them
Expressing gratitude is important to maintain a positive mindset even in times of stress; some ways to express gratitude include writing thank you notes, keeping a gratitude journal, praying, and meditating. The benefits of are myriad and can improve our personal, social, professional, emotional, and physical lives. Gratitude is a priceless habit to build; time to give it a go if you haven’t already!
Image credit: Laura Manning via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution