Paul J. Mills is a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health, Director of the Center of Excellence for Research and Training in Integrative Health, and Director of the Clinical Research Biomarker Laboratory at the University of California San Diego. He is a long-standing National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported clinical investigator with expertise in psychoneuroimmune processes in wellness and in disease, with a current focus on integrative medicine. He has published more than 300 manuscripts and book chapters on these topics. He is a former president of the American Psychosomatic Medicine Society, former Associate Editor of the journals Health Psychology, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, and Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, and former Guest Editor of the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine for a special issue on the topic of Spirituality, Religiousness, and Health: From Research to Clinical Practice. He is currently serving as Director of Research at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad CA, overseeing the Self-Directed Biological Transformation Initiative (SBTI) Research Study, a multi-institutional collaboration examining the health benefits of traditional Ayurvedic practices.
For the past decade or so, the field of behavioral cardiology has shifted its focus from being primarily on psychological traits such as hostility, stress and depression to more positive attributes such as gratitude, compassion and empathy. In individuals with heart failure, for example, gratitude has been identified as an important resource for alleviating the struggles associated with symptoms, as well as associated with less depression, fatigue and better sleep. Patients who regularly journal about gratitude have improved wellbeing and a better health profile including increased heart rate variability (a measure of reduced cardiac risk) as well as reduced circulating levels of inflammatory biomarkers associated with cardiovascular disease. Fostering gratitude through journaling may have significant beneficial effects to enhance health in cardiac patients.