A year-long gratitude practice
Reflect upon your present blessings -- of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
- Charles Dickens
Coming down from the gratitude-high of Thanksgiving, I feel inspired to write short post about the power and real positive effects of a constant gratitude practice. Fits and spurts along the holidays are great of course, but as we deal with the ups and downs of the whole year, I want to remind folks of the real value of creating a habit of this practice. As a preacher of gratitude to my health coaching clients (I will almost certainly tout its benefits if you’ve worked with me you know this!) I find it wonderful when we’re all buzzing about how grateful we are for this and over the Thanksgiving table, but cultivating a year-long gratitude practice can have a positive ripple effect on many parts of our lives and the lives of those around us.
Let me be clear, I know you’re busy. I’m busy too! But gratitude doesn’t have to be something that takes up a lot of time. It can be the 15 seconds you spend before bed jotting down the 3 things you are grateful for that day, or dedicating a minute of gratitude time as you brush your teeth first thing in the morning, or perhaps in bed before going to sleep sharing with a partner three things you’re grateful for. I even had one client who had the fabulous idea of writing out one thing she was grateful for each day when she was at work and adding them to a ‘gratitude jar’ – talk about a great way to cheer up on a rainy day.
The blog mind-body-green touts 5 reasons to practice gratitude and cites the research studies published on the matter touting that, gratitude can reduce depression, help you feel more peaceful, improve your mood and sleep, boost overall cardiac health and strengthen memory and brain health.
Whatever draws you in from those easy aforementioned practice examples or benefits, I urge you to give the practice of daily gratitude a try. It is hard to explain how perspective-shifting this habit can be so I encourage you to see for yourself. It can change the fabric of your life, the lens with which you view your life and the lives of those around you. And it only takes about 15 seconds.
Still not convinced? Read on for some real-live research in an overview from UMass Dartmouth. Researchers like Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough are focusing on the study of gratitude and especially on its relationship to metal well-being and overall health. Some of their finding's include:
- People who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis have been found to exercise more regularly, have fewer physical symptoms, feel better about their lives as a whole, and feel more optimistic about their upcoming week as compared to those who keep journals recording the stressors or neutral events of their lives.
- Daily discussion of gratitude results in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, and sleep duration and quality. Grateful people also report lower levels of depression and stress, although they do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life.
- People who think about, talk about, or write about gratitude daily are more likely to report having helped someone with a personal problem or offered emotional support to another person.
- Those with a disposition towards gratitude are found to place less importance on material goods, are less likely to judge their own or others success in terms of possessions accumulated, are less envious of wealthy people, and are more likely to share their possessions with others.
- Emerging research suggests that daily gratitude practices may have some preventative benefits in warding off coronary artery disease.
Happy gratituding folks!