One of the easiest, most powerful things you can do everyday for your emotional and physical wellbeing is taking some time to set your mind on thoughts of gratitude. Why? Because what you dwell upon, expands.
“A Man becomes what he thinks about all day long.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson
If you focus on what you don’t have, that’s all you will see. Focusing your thoughts on victories instead of defeats will help you develop an attitude of gratitude, and a greater sense of self-worth.
The health benefits of gratitude are an amazing example of just how connected the mind and the body are. Research shows the feelings associated with gratitude, appreciation, love and caring enhance health. When you find one thing, however small, to be thankful for and hold that feeling for as little as 15-20 seconds, many subtle but powerful physiological changes take place inside you:
~ Levels of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin decrease, supporting many organ systems and boosting your immune system
~ Coronary arteries relax, increasing the blood supply to your heart. Heart rhythms become more harmonious, affecting other organs and lifting your mood
~ Breathing becomes deeper, increasing the oxygen level of your tissues
Studies have shown that people who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.
Somedays, some weeks, this might not be as easy as it sounds! I get it. But as my dad says
“When you change the way you look at things, often the things you are looking at change.”
We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them.
The secret to happiness is not found by seeking more, but in developing an appreciation for what we have.
Make gratitude part of your life by adopting more thankful thoughts or making the time to write them down.
A powerful exercise is the use of gratitude journal to reflect on day-to-day success, or simply take a few minutes to think of 5 things you are grateful for in your life. Chances are you won’t be able to stop at just 5! I do this every morning before I get out of bed, and my sons and I do this at dinner most nights (sure they roll their eyes sometimes, but I challenge them to it anyway!)
Make simple acts of gratitude part of your everyday life, and you will be pleasantly surprised at the shifts in your mental state and how much better you will feel.