When’s the last time you heard someone talk about good vibes or the power of positive thinking? If you’re on a healing journey, chances are you’ve come across an uplifting quote that inspired you to consider the impact of your thoughts and feelings on your physical health and mental wellbeing.
Optimizing your ability to heal should include purposefully noticing, paying attention to, and expressing gratitude for the things in your life you’re thankful for? Essentially, I’m talking about being mindful of what’s going well in your life rather than focusing on the negatives that admittedly do exist. If that sounds a bit too ‘out there’ for you, consider the evidence.
Research suggests that creating positive emotions by acknowledging the good things in your life could benefit your health, positively affect your body, and even result in decreased symptoms of heart disease. Additionally, those with more grateful dispositions report greater happiness and satisfaction. Perhaps most promising is a 2017 study that examined hemoglobin A1c, a key biomarker of health often used to track the progression of diabetes, which suggested that gratitude might work to prevent chronic illness.
If you’ve wondered about an attitude of gratitude, please know that it’s not just an uplifting thought or warm emotion. Similar to the practice of yoga or meditation, you can cultivate gratitude to optimize your body’s inherent healing potential. Cultivating gratitude is something you can do. If you’d like to give it a try, here are three simple steps to incorporate gratitude into your life and help you heal:
1. Assess Your Level of Gratitude — An effective gratitude practice begins with directed self- awareness. Take a few minutes to consider the following and give yourself an informal true or false gratitude score. Understanding where you are now will give you direction and motivation to move to the next level of gratitude.
- There is so much to be grateful for.
- If I had to list each thing I’m thankful for, my list would be very long.
- There are many people in the world I’m grateful for.
- The older I get, the more thankful I am for everyone who’s shaped my life.
Or do you feel more like this:
- When I look at my life, I don’t see much to be thankful for.
- Weeks or months go by before I feel thankful for something.
2. Make a Gratitude Master List — That’s right. Make a list of every last thing in your life you could be grateful for. Spend some time on this. Think about the people, places, conditions, events, and things that have made you who you are today. Whether your fourth-grade teacher or that trip to Italy, if it’s been good for you or good to you, write it down. I call this priming the gratitude pump, and it’s evidence-based. In a study where participants were asked to either record five blessings or five burdens each day, the blessings group was 25 percent happier, exercised 1.5 hours more, and had fewer health problems after 10 weeks. After you’ve made your master list, you can add to it by noting what you’re grateful for each day.
3. Express Gratitude Out Loud — This may feel strange if you’re not used to saying thank you to others or acknowledging that you’re grateful for little things like a warm cup of coffee or a front-row parking spot. But I challenge you to give it a try. Start at home with your family, friends, neighbors, pets, or plants. It can be anything that makes you feel good. After a morning walk, thank your legs, heart, and lungs. Thank your partner or child for something ordinary like letting the dog out or turning off the lights when they’ve left the room. Hearing yourself express thanks can amplify the feelings that accompany the words. Being grateful feels good.
I’m grateful that you took the time to read this post. I’m grateful you trust Silver Tree Wellness Center as a source of information and inspiration on your healing journey. Now it’s your turn to practice gratitude. Begin with these three simple steps and notice the impact on your health and wellbeing.