The attitude of gratitude has powerful positive effects on both the mind and the body, and multiple scientific studies confirm that.
Are we so caught in the whirlpool of daily agitation that we forget to make room for gratitude? The attitude of gratitude is a state of appreciation that fills our hearts with joy and peace. You could live with it every day if you only remember what to be grateful for.
Think of Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is celebrated by Americans on the fourth Thursday of November and is one of their most beloved celebrations. It is a moment of introspection when family and friends gather together and give thanks to the gifts in their lives.
As explained by Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Robert Emmons, the attitude of gratitude is “an affirmation of goodness“.
When you feel grateful, you say you live in a benevolent world. It is an acknowledgment that the source of this goodness comes from outside you; that other people or higher powers have offered you “gifts” that will improve your life in a certain way.
Practicing the attitude of gratitude improves health and happiness
Practicing the attitude of gratitude day by day should become a ritual because it encourages happiness and health. It is regrettable that most people forget to practice gratitude. If we allocate time for it every day, our lives could be changed in a positive way.
Studies have shown that the psychological state of gratitude has beneficial implications for the health of the whole body. So if you want to bring a state of peace and joy in your life, it would be wise to consider practicing your attitude of gratitude as often as possible.
We can be grateful for every meal on our table. We can be grateful for the fact that Mother Nature supports us and every year gives us a rich harvest of fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts to bring to our home.
This is just a simple example, but everybody surely has a much longer list of blessings.
What if I do not have what to be grateful for?
Depending on what happened to you at a particular time, you may feel that you have no reason to express your gratitude. In an article published in the New York Times, Arthur C. Brooks says:
“Is it wise to be emotionally authentic? Wrong! Trying to build a better life does not mean to stay loyal to feelings in the name of authenticity, but rather to rebel against negative impulses and to act correctly even when we do not feel grateful. In short, practicing gratitude can make you grateful. Evidence suggests that we can actively choose to practice gratitude – and this brings us happiness. You choposose to be grateful whether you feel it at that time or not. “
A method by which you can train yourself to practice the attitude of gratitude is to identify and be grateful for seemingly “useless” or “insignificant” things. You can be grateful for the beauty of a flower, the clear sky, the smell of the air or the paved road that you are walking on.
Over time, you will discover that this will really improve your ability to identify the good things in life. In fact, you might find that happiness is closer than you have imagined.
The positive effects of the attitude of gratitude on our lives, backed by science
In addition to making you feel good, feeling and expressing gratitude brings a wide range of health benefits, including:
- Stimulation of the hypothalamus (a brain area involved in stress management)
- Improving your sleep (especially if your mind tends to be too active, full of negative thoughts and worries at bedtime)
- Increasing the likelihood of engaging in healthy activities such as exercise
- Improving satisfaction in relationships
- Increasing work performance (managers who have expressed their gratitude have seen a 50% increase in employee performance)
- Stress reduction
- Improving one’s sense of well-being
- Improving heart health, reducing the likelihood of death subtly patients with congestive heart failure and coronary heart disease
- Producing measurable positive effects on serotonin neurotransmitters, dopamine (involved in mood regulation), reproductive hormones, cortisol (stress hormone), blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar levels.
5 practical strategies to strengthen and enhance the attitude of gratitude
Like a muscle, the sense of gratitude can be built and strengthened by practice. Here are 5 practices you can apply in your day-to-day life:
1. Keep a diary of gratitude
You can keep a diary in a notebook, on your computer or you can find an application on your phone.
In a recent study, it has been shown that people who have had a diary have done more exercises and have made fewer visits to the physician than those who have focused on the issues in their lives.
2. Write a thank you letter
You can write a note or a letter of gratitude to someone in your life. This person either helped you at a time of your life or you simply admire her/him.
3. Non-verbal actions
These include smiles and hugs, both of which can express a wide range of messages, from encouragement and enthusiasm to empathy and support.
4. Be honest and choose your words wisely
We can say the words “please” or “thank you” many times, but these can become forms of gratitude when combined with visual contact and sincerity. Tell them from the heart.
5. Prayer or meditation mindfulness
Expression of thanksgiving during prayer or meditation is another way of cultivating the attitude of gratitude. Practicing mindfulness meditation means that you are present and active where you are now.
A mantra is sometimes used to keep you focused. But you can focus on something you are grateful for, such as a pleasant smell, a cool breeze, or a wonderful memory.
By concentrating on what is good today, you become available to receive abundance in your life. So do not forget to say “thank you” to yourself, to the universe, and to others.