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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tranformation Tuesday -Gratitude Study and CMT

I was reading a book recently on gratitude by Dr. Robert Emmons of  UC Davis.  He researches gratitude and its connect to healthy, success and happiness.

What caught my attention was a reference made to a study that he did with  a group neuro-muscular patients including patients with CMT.

The CMT patient came from the center of excellence at UC Davis.  I actually went on-line and pulled the original paper by Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough  titled  "Counting Blessings versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life".

There have been several studies that have linked the practise of gratitude with greater happiness. The ability to notice, savor and appreciate the elements in life has been linked by several research studies to overall greater well-being.  I know of no study with the exception of this one that has used CMT patients.

The purpose of the McCullough and Emmons study was to understand if there was a link between gratitude and happiness. They wanted to test if a negative, neutral or positive outlook on life has any health effects.

The researches believed that self-guided exercises designed to induce a state of gratitude would lead to a heightened well-being over time.

They studied three groups of people:

  • 241 freshmen university students in a health psychology class at a public university.
  • 166 undergraduate students in a healthy psychology class at a public university
  • 65 people with congenital or adult on-set neuro-muscular diseases including polio, Charcot-Marie-Tooth)
There was a control group and a gratitude group for the CMT study The control group did nothing and the gratitude was asked to write down the things they were grateful for once a day for 21 days.

Then both groups were asked to fill out a self assessment on their optimism and how they connected to others. They rated how much pain they had,  and any other limitations from their disease.  Their partners were also fill out an assessment.

The study showed those in the study group practicing gratitude:
  • Reported more satisfaction with their life as a whole.
  • Felt more optimism in their upcoming week
  • Felt more connected to others
  • Got more sleep each night
  • Spent more time exercising
  • Had fewer symptoms (less negative effects from the disease)
  • More likely to have helped someone else.
  • Were rated by their partners as being higher on life satisfaction
The researches found that the practise of gratitude was most effective when it focused on hassles or complaints. Study members received the benefits when they realize they are better off in comparison to others.  Practicing gratitude switches self-focus to focus on the good things in our lives.

Here are some suggestions for practicing gratitude from Dr. Emmons:
  • Journal- keep a gratitude journal. Spend a few minutes everyday to record what you are grateful for.  If you do this right before bed, it will help you sleep better.
  • Remember - remember the hard times in your life.  Strangely taking the time to remember when times were hard, helps us to appreciate what we have and be grateful.
  • Three Questions-  Ask yourself these questions: "What have I received from______?, What have I given to _____?, What troubles and difficulties have I caused?"
  • Act the Part- Act as if you are grateful. Smile, say thank you, write thank you notes and pretty soon you will feel grateful. 
Being grateful will increase the happiness in your life.  Dr. Emmons has found that the practise of gratitude can increase happiness by 25%.
When you feel grateful you will reap the health and life benefits gained by gratitude. More about that in future postings.


Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Chris is a triathlete and long distance runner. She is a three time participant of the Boston Marathon.  In 2012 she finished 2nd at Boston in the Mobility Impaired Division. She was on the course in 2013 when the bombs exploded.

She has appeared three times at the Paratriathlon National Triathlon Sprint Championship. She was the 2012 and 2014 National Champion Paratriathlon Open Division Champion.

In 2014 she was the PC Open Champion at the Duathlon National Championship. She has qualified to represent Team USA at the Aquathon ITU World Championship in Chicago in 2015 and 2016

 In 2014 she represented  the U.S. as a paratriathlete at the Pan-American Triathlon Championship in Dallas, Texas.

She travels around the country raising awareness of CMT.

She is the author of the book, “Running for My Life” that details her experience as a CMT affected athlete.

You may visit her author page at:

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 183 members in 32 states. We also have members in Australia, England,Scotland, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland, Scotland, France and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site; or

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

Additional Link
Follow CMT affected Paratriathlete Timmy Dixon

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