The Power Of Gratitude

By Lisa Shanken | Healthy Living

The Power of Gratitude

Did you know being grateful can actually benefit your mental and physical health? It’s true! The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. According to Harvard University’s psychology researchers, “Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami ran an interesting experiment to understand the power of gratitude. In this study, during a 10 week period, one group was asked to write a few sentences each week about things that happened during that week and why they felt grateful for them. A second group wrote down things that annoyed them each week, and the third group just wrote down things that happened each week without attaching any emotions to these events. Aside from feeling happier and more positive, after 10 weeks, the group that wrote about their gratitude each week also exercised more and had fewer doctor visits than the other two groups.

Focusing on gratitude also tends to help people stay in the present moment more, therefore reducing anxiety about the future or feeling depressed about something in the past. Philosophers have often said gratitude can lead to other emotions. For example, appreciating someone can lead to a more meaningful relationship, appreciating your work can lead to being more productive, and appreciating the things you already have can give you more satisfaction and save you money on material spending.

I am always most interested in the implementation of new habits, so the next question to ask yourself is, how can we cultivate gratitude? How can we appreciate what we have, even if we feel sad, anxious, or down? It might seem like a conundrum since cultivating gratitude may help those depressing feelings, yet it is hard to cultivate them when feeling down. So follow along, and try these tips to raise your positive vibration and improve your physical health!

  1. Write a thank you note to someone and express the things you are thankful to them about.
  2. Keep a gratitude journal about the things you are grateful for each day or each week.
  3. Visualize for 3-5 minutes per day about things you feel lucky to have in your life.
  4. Have a “no complaints” day each week. It is a great way to realize just how much you have to be grateful for, plus it can help stop negative thinking.
  5. Find a silver lining in at least 3 situations per week. For anything not going the way you want it to go, look for the positive. Something positive usually exists if you seek it out.
  6. Clean out a closet and find things you forgot about but love to renew your appreciation for the things you already have.

Personally, tip # 3, visualizing 3-5 minutes per day, is my go to habit for my daily gratitude practice. I do it each morning (closer to 3 minutes than 5 minutes for full disclosure), and it helps me start my day with a smile. Try all of the above tips and see what resonates most for you. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if you would like support or help creating new healthy habits!