Gratitude is a powerful thing and we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to discovering the various mental and physical effects it has on us. Let’s look at a few of those to give you an idea of what you can expect if you start to make feeling gratitude a daily focus toward a healthier life.
The Mental Benefits Of Gratitude
Practicing gratitude helps your overall mental health because you instantly have a better outlook on life. Don’t be surprised to walk away from your latest gratitude meditation with a big smile on your face. Of course, the benefits don’t stop at increased happiness. Feeling more gratitude has been linked to a better self-image, less anxiety and even a reduction of depression. This comes as no surprise to scientists who have recorded increased levels of dopamine and serotonin after intentional gratitude meditations.
The Physical Benefits Of Gratitude
This is where it gets interesting. It’s one thing to feel better emotionally, but the release of these “feel-good” hormones affects your physical body as well. Gratitude reduces stress and with it, you’re sleeping better, your blood pressure lowers, and you have more energy. As a result, you move more, leading to even better overall physical health. Maybe your gratitude exercise motivates you to go out for a walk, getting more oxygen into your body and loading up on Vitamin D. Being able to sleep soundly reduces appetite and less stress helps you make smarter food choices. All these things work hand in hand to turn you into a healthier and stronger version of yourself.
Gratitude is particularly important for heart health. Between the lower blood pressure and reduced stress, you are putting less strain on your heart. The added exercise and sleep strengthen your heart muscle and give this most important organ time to recover and heal overnight. With heart disease one of the leading causes of death in modern society, there’s never been a better time to practice gratitude and let go of stress.
How can you tap into both the mental and physical benefits of gratitude? By feeling more of it. That’s easier said than done. A great place to start is by creating a habit of thinking of at least one person or one thing you are deeply grateful for each morning as soon as you wake up. It sets the tone for the whole day and gets you off to a great start to reap these powerful benefits. Give it a try!
How you feel – how happy you are, how stressed you are, even how well you sleep – may seem like it’s out of your hand, but it is actually a choice you make. You can choose to be grateful for what you have and happiness follows. Or you can choose to focus on what you’re lacking, who has wronged you, and what’s not going your way. And guess what? You’ll feel miserable. You may blame others, circumstances, or fate for your unhappiness. But at the end of the day it’s all about you and the choices you make. You choose happiness or misery.
How can you make sure you make the right choices throughout life? One of the simplest ways to ensure you live a happy and fulfilled life is to focus on gratitude. As an example, you get upset when your friend stands you up on your lunch date and that’s okay. How you choose to move forward from here is what will make the difference. You can choose to dwell on the slight you think your friend gave you. The more you think about it, the angrier you get. Instead of having lunch at the new restaurant you were looking forward to trying, you get back into your car, drive home and let it ruin your day. That’s a choice. Now let’s look at a different one.
Same scenario. Your friend stands you up. You’re disappointed and maybe even a little mad. You take a deep breath, let those negative feelings go and make a choice based on gratitude. What can you find in this situation that you can be grateful for? Maybe you’ve been wishing for some quiet alone time so you can hear yourself think. Maybe there’s a store you’ve wanted to check out or a movie you’ve wanted to see for a while and this is the time to do it. Maybe there’s an old friend you’ve been meaning to visit. Or maybe you’ll simply enjoy a good meal by yourself and grab some takeout for your spouse on the way out the door.
Instead of heading home angry, you’re going home grateful for these few special hours you carved out for yourself. And who knows. Maybe you talk to your friend later that evening and find out that she had a family emergency that caused her to miss your lunch date. How guilty would you feel then about the anger you let yourself feel towards her? And how guilty would she feel for having ruined your day? Instead, focusing on gratitude and making the best of the situation, you created happiness for yourself. If you ask me, that’s some sort of super power.
Meditation is a habit that may come easily to some. I have been meditating for over five years, but there were many days I found myself slipping. These days, not so much, not since I completed the no cost Action Habits Challenge by Connie Ragen Green, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur. You can check it out here.Follow me on: