This is the time of year when we are provided with holidays that remind us of the good things in life. It’s also the time when we tend to focus more on being grateful – that is once the shopping, cooking and baking are behind us. Read on to learn how being grateful is a great way to stay healthy.
Gratefulness is an Emotion
If I were to ask you to list some powerful emotions you’d likely write fear, love, hate, happy, or sad (and probably a lot more). However, there’s one emotion that is like a magic wand in many ways and is often overlooked … it’s Gratitude.
Most people are focused on lack instead of on the abundance they actually enjoy, if they’d take the time to acknowledge it. For instance, people focus on the 20 pounds they have yet to lose, the lack of money, the car that needs to be replaced and countless other areas of lack. As a close friend of mine used to say, “Just STOP”, and let’s do a bit of reframing.
Do you turn on the tap in your kitchen and clean water flows out? Do you have enough blankets on your bed to keep you warm on a cold winter’s night? How about eyes that can see the beauty of nature all around you? Are you reading this on a computer or on your SmartPhone? We have so much to be grateful for … acknowledge how good you really have it and say Thank You.
So Many Benefits of Gratefulness
By embracing a practice of gratitude you’ll soon feel the beneficial effects in many areas of your life. It’s been found to improve psychological health by reducing toxic emotions like envy and regret. When it comes to physical health, grateful people have been found to have fewer aches and pains and take better care of themselves in general. When medical science started looking into the key attributes present in centenarians (people who live over l00 years), they found these people were very adept at expressing gratitude.
Gratitude is also linked to better sleep, with both better sleep quality and duration being linked to a grateful attitude. This same outlook has been linked to higher levels of self-esteem and it can also help us make new friends: Thanking an acquaintance encourages them to pursue an ongoing relationship with you, as it sends the signal that there is potential for a high-quality relationship to be formed.
Form a Gratitude Practice
It’s clear there are multiple benefits to be had from incorporating a regular gratitude practice into your wellness routine. Yes, gratitude is part of being healthy and fit. I advise my clients to write down a few things every day in a journal designated specifically for the subject. Silently (or audibly) acknowledging things you’re grateful for on your commute or taking a moment at the dinner table to say something you are thankful for out loud—all of these acts open up your mind and body to feel their best.
Don’t Misunderstand …
Don’t get me wrong: being in a state of gratitude all the time does not mean you’re grateful for everything – that’s just impossible.
It does mean that you’re constantly connected to all the blessings in your life and you’re always able to find the lesson and positive side to every situation or outcome. How would that be different from the way you’re “doing life” at present?
Mastering this state of mind is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
So let the holidays be a time to practice gratitude and strengthen its role in your life, but be sure to keep up the practice even after the celebrations are over to support your best health.