When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Marcus Aurelius
The simple act of gratitude can have powerful effects on your emotional well-being and consequently on your physical body as well. Negative emotions create muscle tension, weaken our immune system, and even alter our hormone patterns (men too!). Taking a minute to immerse yourself in simple gratitude for the many blessings in your life is scientifically proven to improve your health.
Practicing Gratitude as a Community
Every October we do something powerful and positive in the practice. We invite people to take a moment to share something they are grateful for on a piece of paper and post it on the wall in the reception room.
Everyday as we discussed the importance of living with a grateful heart, encouraged people to take a moment to share what they were grateful for, we were inspired by the responses we received.
More than just the act of writing the gratitude note, others read all the notes on the wall, had a laugh, shared a sentiment, and left with a smile on their face.
We watched people reflect, and often converse with others in the practice. We witnessed people coming together, interacting with each other, and watched a community unfold. We’ve already started the wall again this year, but here’s why gratitude is so important:
A man becomes what he thinks about all day long. Ralph Waldo Emerson
What you dwell upon expands. 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 Science Behind Gratitude And What It Can Do For Your Health
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 and beneficial physiological changes take place inside you:
- Levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline 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
People who regularly practice gratitude report higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy when compared to those who do not.
Practicing Gratitude Individually
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.
You will be pleasantly surprised how it will shift your mental state and the benefits to your health!