| Jul 25, 2013
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Melody Beattie
If I told you in three weeks you could have a stronger immune system, feel less stressed, have better relationships, and be happier; would you give something as simple as practising gratitude a go? Chances are most of us don’t really give gratitude a second thought because to us is it just saying “thank you” for something we have received – usually something tangible like a bunch of flowers, a dinner out, a new outfit or “toy”.
However, by definition, gratitude is “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness”. This means it is not over in an instant – it is an ongoing practice, which involves BOTH giving and receiving.
I can hear you asking, “So really how does that benefit me?” “Isn’t gratitude just some fluffy emotion embroidered on a hand towel with little flowers all around it?” Actually, gratitude is one of the most powerful tools to achieving happiness in life. Much research has been done in recent years and the results are surprising.
Gratitude is good for our bodies – studies have shown that gratitude:
- Physical Benefits
- Strengthens the immune system
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces symptoms of illness
- Improves our pain thresholds thereby making us less affected by aches and pains and helps us cope with chronic pain
- Makes us want to exercise more
- Motivates us to take more responsibility for our health
- Improves our quality of sleep – meaning we get more hours of sleep each night, falling asleep easier and feeling more refreshed on waking
2. Psychological Benefits Gratitude has been show to:
Reduce negativity, and attitudes of blame and other toxic emotions
- Increase happiness
- Boost feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure and other positive emotions
- Improve sense of self worth
- Reduce anxiety and depression
- Make us more resilient in recovering from stressful and/or traumatic events, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Gratitude can strengthen relationships by:
- Making us feel closer and more committed to friends and partners
- Allowing more satisfaction with relationships
- Encouraging more equitable division of labour between partners
- Promoting forgiveness
- Motivating us to “pay it forward” with random acts of kindness, compassion and helpfulness
- Helping children feel more positive emotion and better connected in their community
- Helping in an education setting with both teachers and students feeling more satisfied and accomplished about their schools
Next week’s blog will focus on some suggestions of how to practice gratitude but in the meantime, start by celebrating the present – acknowledge the goodness in your life and try to think before complaining about what you don’t have – focus instead on what you do have!