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Every November, nearing Thanksgiving, our hearts, minds, and Facebook feeds all seem to have one thing in common. They are filled with thoughts of gratitude.
At least in the world of social media, there always seems to be a handful of people who make it known that this practice of gratitude isn’t just a holiday-time theme.
Some people assert that this exercise of naming the things in their life (people, things, experiences, feelings, opportunities, successes, health, etc.) that they are thankful for is a daily practice.
And, research suggests that those who incorporate this practice daily...may be on to something!
Gratitude is simply the practice of being grateful. And, while I’m sure you’ve heard this at some point in your life: there is truly always something that we can be thankful for.
Anthony Robbins said, “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.”
Our brains cannot center on both positive and negative thoughts at the same time. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we can truly shift our thoughts from negative to positive.
The act of being grateful activates two neurotransmitters in the brain: serotonin and dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for making a person feel good. And, serotonin works like an antidepressant, turning on the brain’s happiness receptors.
Research shows that practicing daily gratitude provides a wealth of physical, mental, emotional, and even social benefits.
1. Boosts happiness
2. Improves sleep duration
3. Improves sleep quality
4. Reduces inflammation
5. Improves heart health
6. Promotes feelings of connectivity to others
7. Fewer physical aches and pains
8. Promotes optimism
9. Those who practice gratitude daily are known to exercise more
10. Lowers stress hormone levels
11. Actual reduction in stress
12. Improved mental health
13. Those soldiers returning from Vietnam who practiced gratitude had lower rates of PTSD
14. Resilience to trauma
15. Strengthens the immune system
16. Lowers blood pressure
17. Greater health consciousness
18. More alert/awake
19. Higher levels of positive emotions
20. Greater joy, kindness
21. Better self-esteem
22. More generous
23. Showed greater compassion
24. Less lonely
25. More forgiving
26. More outgoing
27. More helpful
28. Greater sense of self-worth
29. Grants perspective
30. Gives hope
Studies show that actually writing out your gratitude list...good old fashioned pen and paper...makes your brain more likely to recall these grateful thoughts throughout your day.
However, don’t let that deter you if you prefer to keep things digital as the range of benefits is not specific to either mode.
So, pick a method: pen and paper or digital, and begin first and foremost by setting aside a specific time to write (or type).
Some people like to take a few moments in the morning, before they start their day, and recall a few items from the previous day. Others like to take a few moments before bed and list things they are grateful for from that day.
And, choose a place and time where you can be free from outside distractions.
Each person’s practice may look a little different. Some prefer to journal in full sentences and elaborated thoughts. Others prefer to incorporate a simple list of the things they are grateful for.
Living a life of gratitude isn’t merely confined to a list on notebook paper or an online journal. As you begin to incorporate these lists or journal entries daily, you will begin to see opportunities to exercise gratitude in your life.
- Compliment people that you encounter throughout your day.
- Smile at those you pass by.
- Spend time in person or even on the phone with your loved ones.
- Volunteer your time to help those in need.
- Focus on the positives in your life.
- Focus on your strengths and the strengths of others.
- See mistakes (in yourself and in others) as a chance to grow.
- Refrain from talking ill of others.
- Avoid negative sources of input (talk from others, social media).
- Send cards or letters to those in your life that you are grateful for.
Our days can be long, and often hectic. No one is immune from this fact of life. But, throughout each day, take time to see reasons to be grateful in each area of your life.
And, strive to be the reason that others have cause to be grateful.
MEDICAL DISCLAIMER This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Charles Livingston nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.