Gracias: The Secret to Health and Happiness

By Marcella Castellanos
Want to know a simple secret to health and happiness?
Saying Gracias. Yes, it’s really that simple. And it isn’t just for days such as the upcoming U.S. holiday, Thanksgiving. Researchers say that extending gratitude throughout the entire year will reward you with better health and of course, happiness.
What? No strict diet , exercise regime, or pill? Can just a positive action such as saying, “gracias,” guarantee better health? It sounds like a dramatic departure from what we’ve been taught about health, but the connection between gratitude and health actually goes back, waaayyy back. According to psychology professor Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis, “Thousands of years of literature talk about the benefits of cultivating gratefulness as a virtue.” Gratitude as a virtue has been lauded as vital to health and wellness by philosophers and religious leaders throughout history. Mental health professionals are taking a close look at how virtues such as gratitude can benefit our health, this movement is called positive psychology and the results have been nothing short of promising.
According to Emmons, “Grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations,” as published in It’s beneficial to write down the things in your life for which you are grateful. I call them IAG’s (I am gratefuls). It can be as simple as the way your dog looked at you, the way the air cooled recently, or as profound as the love you have for your family. It can instantly put you in a new state of happiness and awareness of all your blessings. When you do this, it has the power to change the direction of your entire day!
Life is constantly presenting challenges and ups and downs, that’s why it’s life, right? We are constantly living with a challenge, getting past one, or starting a new one. At times, it’s difficult to understand why we have such setbacks. Some examples might be:
Telmex is driving me crazy!
Why are my finances so low?
Is my spouse annoying me on purpose?
Regardless of the scope or size of the setback or challenge, there is always one thing challenges have in common: the opportunity to self-reflect and grow. Many times it’s not about “them” and more about us and what we need to work on: patience, tolerance, and understanding. When the negative becomes our sole focus that’s what expands, and we’ll become self-involved and immersed with the problems.
Conversely, by focusing on what is good and right in our life, as well as the solutions to the problems instead of the problem itself, soon the perceived “bad things” recede and become smaller. As well, the optimism expands and we experience an opportunity to develop a new threshold of personal growth and happiness. Start each morning by writing at least three IAG’s.
Gracias for being your authentic YOU. I’d love to hear how gratitude shifted what could have been a bad day for you.

Marcella Castellanos is a bilingual, bi-cultural certified Health & Wellness Coach. She works with busy professionals over forty to help spice up their vitality by adopting healthier, sustainable habits. Marcella offers detoxing, weight loss programs and workshops as well as one-on-one three to six month coaching with a holistic approach. You can sign up for a FREE six week Happy, Healthy Holiday online program to help you transform your holiday season and thrive! Space is limited, go to and click on Healthy Holidays!

One comment

  1. Gracias may be the way of saying grace by the oldest living woman in the world at this time, however she reported on her 127 th birthday … in the same state as Puerto Vallarta … that she liked chocolate, sleeping a lot, and never marrying.

    I use the words Thank You a lot to and for services and kindness offered. However I do not say grace to an imagined God. He who is helped by the imagined one , is actually helped by themselves.

    Happiness is a state of mind by the barer. As stated by the joke of the boy in a room full of horse manure, who was asked why he was playing in a room full of horse manure? His happy answer was, that he knew that there was a pony in there somewhere.

    People are happy because they have a profession or job that they like to do, hobbies they feel good about, and a good wife or woman that looks after their needs. It takes a woman for a male to be a man.

    I worked at my main profession for some 55 years before retirement, and I was introduced at the job planning meetings as a person who really loves his job. However health is something that our genes and body take care of as long as we do not undermine our bodies and brain are built to do. It is not what you do , but mostly what you don’t due that maintains one’s health.

    Consider how much our health and lifespans are shortened by: 1) Sodomy; 2) hard drugs ;3) consuming alcohol ;3) smoking tobacco , etc; 4) consuming carbonated beverages ; 5) not drinking sufficient pure water especially before going to sleep at night ; 6) not maintaining a balanced diet ; 7) not getting sufficient sleep, with a balance of rest and exercise ; and 8) performing risky acts or working at a dangerous profession.

    One may say Grace at the thanksgiving dinner with family and friends , but overeating the heavy meal … has often resulted in an unexpected heart attack, or a case of severe indigestion. And do not drink and drive!

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