An attitude of gratitude is more than just saying “thank you” as a response to someone who has done something for you. It’s a healthy mindset with proven overall health benefits.
Does this mean you always have to be positive in every single situation? As we well know, that can’t always be the case, no matter how hard we try. Does it mean we have to accept situations at face-value whether we agree with them or not? An attitude of gratitude is more about finding the moments, things and people to be grateful for in every situation — about not taking anything or any time on this earth for granted. And, to borrow that ubiquitous ‘90s phrase, to not sweat the small stuff.
Can being grateful really have measurable health benefits? Studies are starting to suggest: Yes. Grateful people sleep better, have fewer aches and pains, and exhibit healthier hearts – and not just because they’re full of love.
The Possible Health Benefits of Gratitude
In a study done by Thnx4.org, participants reported fewer headaches, less congestion, stomach pain, and cough or sore throat. This is supported by an earlier study completed in 2003 for the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology where it was found that college students who recorded their gratitude’s for two weeks reported less headaches, shortness of breath, sore muscles, and nausea than their counterparts who simply wrote about daily events.
Doing daily gratitude’s have also been known to improve sleeping habits and lower blood pressure. Why might this be?
The Science Behind Gratitude
Being grateful is inherently a mood booster, which automatically contributes to such things as better sleep, making healthier eating habit choices, and having the motivation to exercise.
Think of it this way: If you come out of a life-altering procedure or are recovering from a heart attack and you already have that attitude of gratitude ingrained, you’re probably more likely to see the positive in the situation and count your blessings.
The American Heart Association has also stated that “positive psychological health, which includes optimism and gratitude, can lead to improvements in risk factors for heart disease and stroke, such as less inflammation and lower cholesterol.”
How to Practice Daily Gratitude
Keeping a daily journal is one of the best ways to practice gratitude on a daily basis. By writing down a list of three to five things that you’re grateful for, all of the positives in life come to surface. The more specific you can be, the better! It also gives you a record to refer back to on those gloomier days, when you need a spark of inspiration to remind you that life is actually pretty good when you seek out the good.
Another great way to incorporate gratitude into your daily life is through meditation, which can be done with a regular yoga practice.
All of these methods link the mind, body and spirit for greater vitality — which will help you to continue doing the things you love, longer.