What would happen if we extended the tradition of giving thanks, typically celebrated just once a year during the holiday season, throughout the entire year? Well certain researchers say gratitude is rewarded with better health.   Grateful people — those who perceive gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind — have an edge on the not-so-grateful when it comes to health, according to some studies.   They take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.   Gratitude can help us better manage stress. Grateful people tend to be more optimistic, a characteristic that researchers say boosts the immune system. In one study, researchers comparing the immune systems of healthy, first-year law students under stress found that, by midterm, students characterized as optimistic (based on survey responses) maintained higher numbers of blood cells that protect the immune system, compared with their more pessimistic classmates.   Some people manage to feel grateful in the face of challenging life circumstances, while others sink into despair. So much of gratitude is about one’s perspective and framework for looking at the world and at self. People who tend to be more mindful of the benefits they’ve received tend to focus their attention outward.   We don’t have to wait for a tragedy to grow feelings of gratitude. Start today. Here are four steps which experts say are tried and true for tuning in to your grateful self:

Keep a gratitude journal. Yes, Oprah was right. Research shows those who keep gratitude journals exercise more regularly, report fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and maintain greater optimism about the future. List your gifts and reflect on what extent they are taken for granted.  Some people need concrete reminders to maintain mindfulness of their gratitude. Talk to yourself in a creative, optimistic, and appreciative manner.   Reflect on gifts for which you’re grateful or, if you’re facing a challenging situation, seeing how it can ultimately be beneficial. For instance, having to cope with particularly difficult people in your job or family can improve your patience and understanding. Reframe a situation. Look at it with a different, more positive attitude. You may notice how looking at a situation with positive intention can change your outlook. Source: adapted from http://women.webmd.com/features/gratitute-health-boost