Gratitude is the perception that something positive in our lives was not earned (or not even deserved). We all know people who seem to be grateful frequently. And we have probably also noticed that they not only seem to be happier in general, but are also healthier than other friends who have a less grateful attitude.
But is gratitude the cause or the result of good health and a happier disposition? And even more interesting: is there anything we can do to influence our own health and wellness by being more grateful ourselves?
The question of the effect of gratitude on health, both physical and mental, was the focus of several studies published a few years ago. They found that gratitude did cause both better health and a greater sense of well-being.
But can we just decide to be more grateful?
Yes, we can. It’s called intentional gratitude. And the easiest way to start is by learning new habits that promote gratitude. Here are three, which are relatively easy to adopt.
Start a Gratitude Journal
Make it a habit each day to write down at least three things for which you are grateful. There will certainly some things which will appear more than once, perhaps even every day. But the act of writing them down reminds you that you are grateful for them. Some things, like your significant other, may not bring out feelings of gratitude every day. But the mere act of reminding yourself that you are truly grateful for that person will soften the times when irritation may be stronger.
Another benefit of knowing that you will journal grateful feelings each day is that you will become more aware of things that make you grateful during the day. Being mindful throughout the day of the things for which you are grateful gives you material for the journal and encourages gratitude throughout the day.
Uncover What You Take for Granted
Did you know that over 750 million people will go to bed hungry tonight? That’s 750,000,000 people.
How often have you ever gone to bed truly hungry?
Or not had a bed to lay your head on at the end of the day?
There are so many things we take for granted because they are present for us every day. Yet they are absent for so many others.
Take some time to start a list of all the things you take for granted in your life today. A roof over your head. A closet full of clothes. Good food to eat. Friends who care about you. The air you breathe.
Post your list somewhere you can see it each day as a reminder of all you have to be grateful for. As new ideas come to mind, add them to your list. Keep a growing record of the blessings in your life.
Develop an Intentional Attitude
The next time you’re caught in traffic, consciously change your irritated feeling to one of gratitude by reminding yourself that you have a job to go to and a way to get there.
Or when we are surrounded by noisy kids, remind yourself that someday, they will be grown and gone… and you will miss this chaos.
By far, this in the hardest one to achieve. But, by being committed to practicing the first two (the gratitude journal and the list of what you take for granted), making these intentional shifts in attitude will become easier.
And, over time, your attitude of gratitude will grow and with it your health and sense of well-being.
That reminds me, I am truly grateful for you!