Count Your Blessings for Better Health. No, Seriously, Do It.


The blooming field of psychoneuroimmunology continues to shed light on how powerful the mind-body connection is and both the physical and mental benefits of being positive.  Researchers at the University of California, Riverside and Duke Medical Center are experimenting with treating depression with positive activity interventions ( PAIs).  Positive Activity interventions are intentional acts to increase the amount of positivity in one’s life.

This new approach to treatment was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.  Lead researchers, Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky, director of the Positive Psychology Laboratory at University of California-Riverside, and Dr. Lihong Wang of Duke analyzed numerous, previous studies on positive activity interventions and its benefits in depressed people.  One study showed that positive intervention activities, which includes things like counting one’s blessings, sending thank you cards, optimistic thinking and random acts of kindness, resulted in significant improvements in depressed patients for 6 months.  Researchers also analyzed MRIs of brains from those who participated in the positivity intervention studies and theorize that PAIs may trigger reward/pleasure circuits in the brain, thereby reversing apathy, a key symptom in depression.  The best news about PAIs is that they’re cost effective, anyone can do them, and there’s absolutely no negative side effects.


But let’s face it: We do not need a prescription for engaging in positive activities. If you want to give PAIs a go on your own just stop where you are right now and think of three things you are grateful for.  Write them down and save the sheet of paper so you can look at it later.  Or, you can text a friend or family member a compliment or nice comment right now.  If you are an avid Facebooker or Twitter, combine social networking and PAIs. Go on to Facebook or Twitter right now and give someone a compliment.  Try to make sure it is a genuine compliment, but consider it an act of spreading positivity in the world.

Finally, I’m grateful for everyone who reads and shares this blog!  🙂


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