When you hear the word gratitude, what comes to mind? Do you feel something inside? Do you smile? Gratitude research demonstrates that when we learn to be thankful, we will be healthier in mind and body…but how often do we really sit down and spend time focusing on the things we are grateful for?
Being thankful is having an attitude of appreciation for something good that we have received from another person or from God. And this is not a new concept – it has been around for thousands of years! Many cultures and faiths teach the benefits of the practice of gratitude.One of my favorite bible verses is about being grateful: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thes. 5:!8)
Research shows that thankfulness has a strong link to emotional health and physical well-being. Grateful people are typically happier, less stressed, more purposeful (and altruistic), sleep better and have fewer
complaints. Gratitude strengthens our emotions, makes us more optimistic and increases relaxation. It is felt in the heart, the mind and the body.
I think Albert Einstein was on to something when he was quoted as saying “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as everything is a miracle.” And there’s always the old question of, “do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty?”
For years Oprah has advocated the power of gratitude and has urged us all to keep a gratitude journal. The simplicity of taking time, just five minutes a day, to write down things you are grateful for can lead to noticeable changes in your life. You can be thankful for something as simple as a beautiful sunset or as big as good news from your doctor. Once you start journaling, you’ll start finding more things to add to your list.
Here are a few ways you can practice gratitude:
Gratitude Journal. Each day, write down the things you are grateful for. Try to identify new things that you haven’t appreciated before. Offer a prayer of thanksgiving to God. On days you are having a hard time with what to put down, read over previous entries and remind yourself that there are things to be thankful for.
Thankful Thoughts. What you think about is hugely significant! Spend a few minutes focusing your thoughts on the good things in your life that you’re thankful for. (I turn these thoughts into gratitude prayers.)
Gratitude Letter. Write a letter or a card to someone who has blessed you. Thank him or her for specific things they’ve done to encourage you. Offer affirmations for qualities you appreciate about them.
Growing in wellness means many things and the practice of gratefulness is one element that costs you nothing, but can bring great gain. Take one more step toward being healthier today… start by shifting to an attitude of gratefulness (see your glass as half-full!). In the words of Maya Angelou, “Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.”
Be happy, be healthy!