Do you have a grateful heart? With Thanksgiving upon us, you may have read an article or heard on the radio/TV about the impact of gratitude on your well-being.
Dr. Lipman’s book How to Be Well noted that the research on gratitude has revealed that it “contributes to more positive emotions, increased ability to navigate difficult circumstances, better health, and stronger relationships.”
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The definition of gratitude is “being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.” (viacharacter.org) I think the two keywords and phrases of this specific definition are being aware and taking time.
At times, we get lost in the dialogue of negativity around us. We zero in on what’s wrong with us, other people, and the world and leave out what’s going right. Because if we closely look, when we become more aware and attuned to the blessings in our lives, even the small ones – they multiply.
I love the saying “What we appreciate, appreciates”! Simply, taking the time to notice the good multiplies to further positive perspectives. You become resilient when, even if you’re going through a difficult time, you’re able to spot the gift in your struggle. It doesn’t mean the experience of pain and challenge goes away. Instead, you view the experience from a different light as an opportunity for growth, and you bounce back stronger than before.
The Well-Being Benefits of Gratitude
In the book Resilient, Rick Hanson identified Gratitude as one of twelve primary inner strengths in becoming more resilient. Below are the benefits of practicing gratitude conveyed at the beginning of the chapter:
- Supports physical health by strengthening the immune system and protecting the cardiovascular system
- Help us recover from loss and trauma
- Help us see the big picture and the opportunities in it
- Connects people together
Mr. Hanson also cited the work of other researchers, such as Robert Emmons, to emphasize the positive impact of gratitude on our health and well-being.
- More optimism, happiness, and self-worth
- Less envy, anxiety, and depression
- More compassion, generosity, and forgiveness
- Less loneliness
- Better sleep
- Greater resilience
With all of these incredible benefits, wouldn’t you like to cultivate a life of gratitude?
A Life of Gratitude – Being Mindful of Blessings
I’m going to be honest with you. In the past, I went through a season where I was blind to the blessings in my life. Grief and resentment filled my heart. I experienced moments of hopelessness and helplessness. It was certainly hard to feel grateful when my vision was blurred with doubt and negativity.
However, as expected with seasons, the dark and cold winters pass, and the colorful sights and scents of spring appear. Such was the course of my life where my eyes opened to appreciate every experience.
To help myself be mindful of blessings, I started a morning journaling routine. It began several years ago with the Five Minute Journal, which prompts you to write three things you’re grateful for. (FYI, Five Minute Journal has a 25% off coupon offer right now if you’re interested. Note that it’s an Amazon affiliate link).
And has evolved today to a morning prayer and journal with the Prayer Journal for Women, with a more prominent section for gratitude that says ‘Lord, thank you.’
Writing what I’m grateful for each day gives me a chance to pause and reflect on the good things. And when it’s hard for me to point out the good things, I sift through the pages as a reminder of the blessings.
What am I grateful for today? Where do I even start with so many to mention? Perhaps, I’ll just share what matters most to me right now.
I’m grateful for the blessing of love and laughter I get to experience every day with my family.