How often do you say “Thank you”?
These two little words may not seem exceptional on their own, but they can have an enormous impact on your mental, spiritual and physical well-being. Based on my personal experience (and according to a number of studies), gratitude can actually make you calmer, friendlier, and healthier.
When we’re preoccupied with what we don’t have (or the negative things we do have), we literally amplify and attract that energy. It’s hard to be positive when your mind is focused on lack, envy, anger, or limitation.
The best way to start building a more positive outlook is to practice gratitude. When you take a minute to remember all the good things in your life, no matter how big or small they may be, it can pay off big time for your health. Spend some time making a list of things you’re thankful for having, rather than you wish you had. You can write about things you like about your body or do a general gratitude list, or both.
It will definitely change your mood, make you feel more uplifted, and allow you to focus on the abundance of all you have! Feel free to substitute the word “grateful” with “appreciate,” if you like. Here are five ways Gratitude can bring magic in your life:
1. Gratitude Relieves Stress
When you’re feeling tired or anxious, instead of focusing on your problems and challenges, try counting your blessings instead. Simply by remembering the positive things in your own life can help boost levels of feel-good hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine. They hormones will naturally make you feel uplifted and happy!
4. Gratitude stabilizes blood pressure
Did you know that those who practice gratitude have a 16 percent lower diastolic blood pressure and a 10 percent lower systolic blood pressure than those who don’t? The effects are accumulative: more you practice gratitude, more “goodness” you will be able to see in the world around you and in other people. When you feel safe in the world, you can relax and connect with others on a deeper level.
3. Gratitude improves your sleep
Do you have a gratitude journal? The secret is to write down things you’re grateful for every night before going to bed. One study found that those who did this for a week said they had more restful nights! You can have that too! Try it and you will be surprised by this simple practice. It doesn’t have to be a long and complicated practice. If you don’t like to write, just think about things you are grateful for. It will have the same effect and will help you have a peaceful, good night sleep.
4. Gratitude strengthen your immune system
Next time you feel a cold coming on during the winter season, make a cup of tea, find a comfortable place in your house, and contemplate on appreciating the good things in your life (such as that cup of hot tea, the roof over your head, heating system in your home, and a warm blanket). It will give a boost to your immune system and help your body fight the cold.
5. Gratitude connects you to Spirit
When you focus on what you have instead of what you don’t, you’re less likely to be depressed. Gratitude keeps you focused on the present, instead of worrying about the past or the future. Realize that worrying about the future will always create anxiety. Instead, learn to accept what’s coming next and be grateful for it. Develop trust that life (God, Spirit, Universe, or Higher Consuoscess), will take care of you and create a sense of peace and awareness of divine forces of nature within you.
Here’s the example of my gratitude list. Feel free to make it yours by adding your personal touch to it:
- I am grateful for my body, which helped me through many challenging things throughout my life.
- I am grateful for my eyes, that let me see the beauty and divinity in the world.
- I am grateful for my legs, that help to transport me from one place to another.
- I am grateful for my hands, which let me write, touch objects, people and textures, and feel the energy of others.
- I am grateful for my feet, which take me anywhere I want to go.
- I am grateful for my stomach, which helps me digest food and convert it into energy so I could use this energy to work and help others.
- I am grateful for my husband/wife/partner and my family and friends, whose support, knows-no-bounds generosity and unconditional love mean a lot to me.
- I am grateful for being alive.
What about you?
Maybe you’re grateful for your kids and how your body gave birth to them. We often forget just what an amazing gift they are in our life. Maybe you’re grateful for your job or the ability to make money, provide shelter for your family, or pay your bills.
Maybe you’re grateful because you have your father’s eyes. For being in recovery from an eating disorder. For having an amazing mentor or a teacher who changed your life. For having a gorgeous smile.
It can be anything, no matter how big or how seemingly small.
Try writing a list of 10 things, and keep that list handy so you can remind yourself whenever your inner critic starts creeping in. You might also want to keep a gratitude journal and write in it several days a week.
Irna Maryanchik, EHH-MA, EEM-CP, PLT