Attitude of Gratitude
What does it mean to be truly grateful and how does the practice of expressing gratitude help our health? Gratitude is perhaps a bit different for each person, depending on their personality and communication style, however, the main idea is to be expressive of thankfulness for what you have, the people in your life, and also your mind and body.
When we can speak words of gratitude each day, whether out loud, through gifts or actions, or by writing our thoughts, we begin to ignite a powerful tool that infiltrates the world around us and our own health.
Resonating in positivity and gratitude calms the mind and this decreases stress. When we can do this, we remove potential threats to the body, as stress increases hormone levels, including cortisol, which can then lead to health issues; this includes weight gain.
As noted by Harvard Health (health.harvard.edu), “In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
How can we be grateful on the days when it doesn’t feel so easy? That is where simple habits come in, ones that will soothe the mind and body, plus radiate goodness to others.
- Journal: The process of journaling is not always natural or easy for people. But, even making lists in one designated notebook a day, perhaps jotting a few thoughts each morning, sets the day in motion and on the right track. “Brain dumping” can include many things, but starting with gratitude in the form of a list of 10 things adjusts the mind and centers it. The more we can come from a place of focus and softness mentally, the better, as our body will react accordingly.
- Gratitude Walk: This is using a daily walk to say, either silently or out loud, the things you are grateful for. If you’re walking your dog, tell them what you are thankful for in this world (include them on the list, of course). And, when listing things, think about why you are grateful for them; instead of just saying, “I am grateful for my body,” think about expanding that thought. “I am thankful for my body because it is mobile, strong, and healthy and it allows me to move and do activities that I enjoy.”
- Thank you cards: Handwritten notes are not a thing of the past! It feels good to tell someone that you appreciate them or the gesture they have done. Expressing gratitude to someone directly strengthens the human connection; again, radiating positivity feels good for all involved and good feelings are linked to good health! Buy or craft notecards or write a letter the old-fashioned way.
- Gratitude Jar: Take a mason jar and fill it with slips of paper that have your expressions of gratitude on them. Especially on tough days, reaching into the jar and finding some sunshine makes the difference in our mental and physical health. Add to your jar as things happen in your life and you meet new people.
- Pray and/or meditate: Whatever your beliefs are and whatever practices align with you spiritually, infusing gratitude into them is a way to train your mind to be at peace. Focusing on the “now” and expressing thankfulness is a powerful tool to cultivate a sense of stillness and calm.
- If the words “I am grateful” are the first words you think of each day, you’re already in a mindset of success! The mind and body are directly connected, so what one says, the other one does in terms of action/reaction. When we state our gratitude, especially for our body, we are sending a message that has long-reaching effects. Even when you have an injury or ailment, perhaps even a serious one, finding gratitude for your body getting you this far and for its strength in repair may be the starting point of recovery.
This season, take moments out of your day, even just one minute, to say what you are grateful for and see what happens. It’s the season of giving and our gratitude can go far beyond thank yous for presents; we can be grateful for yet another holiday that allows us connection and growth.
Integrative Therapies & Wellness
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-----THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR, NOR DOES IT REPLACE, PERSONALIZED MEDICAL ADVICE, DIAGNOSIS, OR TREATMENT. IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONSULT WITH A HEALTH-CARE PROFESSIONAL. THE USE OF ANY INFORMATION PROVIDED IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK. -----