The Healing Power of Gratitude

“Give  thanks for a little and you will find a lot.”  Hansa Proverb

With the current state of affairs, so much uncertainty on the horizon and our ever so busy lives it can be easy to focus on the negative.  In fact, as a culture, depression and anxiety rates are at and all time high and people are unhappier than ever before.  But did you know that there is an easy way to bring more happiness into your daily life?  

You may have heard that starting your day with an attitude of gratitude can have positive mental and physical health benefits.    This is certainly true and the benefits of practicing gratitude are limitless.  Better yet, incorporating a daily practice of gratitude is easy.  It just takes a little time, effort and creativity to get started.  To help you on your gratitude journey, here are a few simple activities that have the potential to bring more gratitude into your life. 

What is Gratitude?

We all know the saying, “Take Time to Stop and Smell the Roses.”   Simple and to the point, this saying has some excellent advice: 

            1. Slow down and stay in the present moment 

            2. Enjoy the beauty and sweetness that life’s simple pleasures bring

Gratitude is the quality of being thankful.  It allows us to recognize and focus on the good in our lives.  Gratitude can be tangible.  I am thankful for the apple tree in my yard – as in the late summer afternoons I can pick delicious apples to eat.  Gratitude can also be intangible.  I am thankful that I am able to hear the laughter of my child, as it brings me great joy. 

Gratitude allows us to savor the moment in the present.  Gratitude also allows us to focus on the good, while blocking the negative voices in our mind which are trying to be heard.

How is Gratitude Healing?

Happier people lead healthier lives and gratitude has been shown to make us more joyful and happy.  When we focus on the positive we tend to take better care of ourselves physically and emotionally.  When we feel good we tend to make good physical and emotional choices.  Gratitude has been shown to:

  1. Reduce Depression
  2. Strengthen our Immune System
  3. Helps us to Sleep Better
  4. Improves our Relationships with Others
  5. Increases our Self Esteem
  6. Increases Empathy
  7. Increase Resiliency

How Can You Bring More Gratitude into Your Daily Life?

Bringing more gratitude into your daily life is easy.  And not only is it easy, it can also be fun.

  • Start a gratitude jar.  Keeping a gratitude jar is a fun way to bring more gratitude into the daily life of your family.  All you need is any old jar, some decorations and some small pieces of paper. Get creative.  If you have kids let them have fun decorating and personalizing the jar. Once the jar is decorated, have each family member write some things that they are grateful for.  Feel free to use some prompts if you are having difficulty getting started.  Prompts can include “Today, I am thankful for.”  “The one thing I love about myself is_______.?  Each day have each family member add 1-2 things that they are grateful for to the jar.  Creating a gratitude jar is a wonderful habit to start . It trains the mind to focus on the good.  And when you are feeling down its great to revisit the little notes in the jar to brighten up your mood. 
  • Become a Volunteer. There is no better way to find gratitude than giving back.  Volunteering helps you feel connected and allows you to feel part of a greater good.  Volunteering also allows you to remain present in the moment.  There are so many opportunities out there and so many areas where you can lend your gifts, talents and time.  A great place to get started is www.volunteermatch.org
  • Write a Gratitude Letter:  Writing a gratitude letter can be a very powerful exercise.  It can also bring much happiness to the recipient.  Did you have a favorite teacher, colleague or boss that you never had the opportunity to thank?  Is there something special you want express to a family member or a loved one?  Why not write them a gratitude letter?  Writing can be cathartic and meditative. If you are feeling down, depressed or unmotivated this is a great exercise to immediately lift your spirits.

Remember, there are so many different ways to harness the power of gratitude every day.  There is no right or wrong way – what matters is that it works for you.   Why not make it a priority today and find the ways that you can bring gratitude into your life on a daily basis?  We promise with a little practice, finding gratitude in the little things will become routine and you will be reaping the benefits of a happier more purposeful life in no time. 

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