Our thoughts, our moods, and the functions of different systems in our bodies have a complex relationship. Research on the nature of gratitude has shown that an attitude of gratitude can help both emotional well-being and physical health.
Studies have shown that people who keep gratitude journals exercise more regularly, have fewer aches and pains, feel better about their lives as a whole, and feel more optimistic about life compared to people who keep journals recording their daily disappointments and stressors. Expressing gratitude daily can result in higher levels of alertness, enthusiasm, attentiveness, energy, and sleep quality. Grateful people also experience lower levels of depression and stress. They do not deny the negative aspects of their lives, they just don’t dwell on them.
So how do you develop an attitude of gratitude? Here are six easy tips:
- Before you even get out of bed in the morning, think about something you are grateful for. It can be something as simple as your comfy pillows and blankets. This will set your day on a positive note.
- Keep a gratitude journal. After getting up, write down three things you are grateful for.
- Think of someone who has done something important for you who you never thanked properly, and thank him or her for it. Write a letter, send an email, or tell them in person.
- Engage the people in your life in gratitude. Rather than discussing the things that stressed you out during the day over dinner, ask “What was the best part of your day today?” This sets a positive tone for your evening, and helps to start a discussion about being grateful.
- When you catch yourself complaining or saying something negative, stop yourself and turn the thought around. Look for the positive in the situation and focus on that. If you spouse is annoying you, rather than focus on what’s annoying, think about his or her strengths.
- Before going to bed at night, write down three good things that happened during the day in your journal.
How are you going to incorporate gratitude into your life each day?
Reprinted with permission from Dianne’s Vegan Kitchen