Gratitude seems to be an amazing trait to have in our lives. It literally affects everything! Relationships, attitude, career, health, seriously you name it and it benefits from this practice. I think sometimes it is hard to wrap your head around gratitude, but there are times when something really makes an impact that you FEEL the emotion of gratitude. That is the feeling that we use that creates all the benefits that we are listed below. Most of us have heard the saying “have an attitude of gratitude”, all the greatest philosophers have told us for thousands of years that this is very important!
This first thing is to be reminded to be grateful, this is very important and could be something like keeping a stone on you or writing a gratitude journal. Many experts believe that using a journal 5 minutes weekly is the way to go. The bottom line is you NEED something to remind yourself to be grateful every day however you choose that works for you.
Gratitude makes us Happier
Plain and simple, yes happier. The more that we feel grateful, the more intense the feelings become and the more we want to feel these feelings. It creates this kind of “loop” that makes us happier. According to studies, this takes a bit of time to be able to feel gratitude regularly, so practice daily, by 2-3 months this should become a habit. By this time you should be able to feel and see the greatest benefits. With regular practice, we are able to slowly change our personalities because it is also associated with increased optimism and empathy. Pretty amazing!
Gratitude makes us Healthier
Gratitude helps us recover from stress more quickly by becoming less self-centered we can see beyond ourselves to see a bigger picture. When you are consciously feeling grateful science shows that we have less physical symptoms, less physical pain, more sleep of a higher quality. There is also an increase in the desire to exercise. (OK, that would be cool!) But there is more, feeling grateful triggers a relaxation response, reduces depression and its symptoms as long as the practice is continued. Blood pressure is reduced and gratitude significantly improves vitality, energy and increased lifespan by a few months or years!
Gratitude Helps us with Our Problems
Gratitude helps to put our problems in perspective. Reflecting on difficult and painful times helps to create a strong emotional contrast. When we are having problems, we tend to make our decisions based on fear. A clearer focus is something greatly needed when worry is taking up all of our energy and increasing confusion. Feeling grateful helps to reduce insecurity and increase self-esteem which helps us to improve focus that leads to better productivity.
Gratitude Reinforces Moral Behavior
Feeling grateful helps people want to give back, by increasing prosocial behavior. We are more likely to reciprocate when we receive from others especially someone that we are close to. Since being grateful is tied to greater empathy, we are more likely to give to others in need and will sacrifice for the greater good.
Gratitude Enhances Appreciation & Awe
Gratefulness enhances seeing the positive and beauty in life, even when disease and unfortunate life circumstances exist. These feelings may help enjoy the beauty of nature, their surroundings, relationships with others, as well as the goodness of life. When we feel awe we are reminded that life can be an amazing place and our issues seem to dwarf in its presence. This is how I feel when I am at the ocean at night with the starts twinkling or standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon maybe its life’s way of reminding us of our place in the universe.
Experience of gratitude, awe and beauty in life among patients with multiple sclerosis and psychiatric disorders
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