“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault
Today, I am talking gratitude. I usually write about health and wellness related sujects, so why am I talking about this? Beyond the fact that we are celebrating Thanksgiving this week, there is another reason…
Being thankful… expressing gratitude and focusing on the positive things in our life actually has effects on our mental well-being and our physical health as well.
This phenomenon has been documented in scientific studies. Both emotional regulation and self-motivation have been found to be affected by practicing gratitude meditation. There are positive effects on the body, like a decrease in heart rate and a beneficial effect on the neural networks in the brain. On functional MRI, areas in the brain that regulate emotions like fear, anger and dissatisfaction are less active after practicing gratitude meditation!
This is powerful.
Our thoughts are helping to shape our emotions, our outlook, and then our subsequent reactions and actions. With constant resentment and negative thoughts, we can become stuck in a negative loop that feeds further anger and dissatisfaction! Re-playing thoughts about prior negative experiences makes you re-live it over and over again. These emotions and actions lead to further stress- which affect our what and why we are eating, our physical activity and more- all affecting our health.
So how does one get started with practicing gratitude? Here are 10 ideas:
- Keep a journal and end your day by listing one or two things for which you are grateful.
- Start the day by reviewing what you wrote the day before to set the tone for the day.
- Volunteer to help those less fortunate.
- Practice making note of the little things you appreciate throughout the day. There is beauty all around us if you are open to seeing it.
- Catch yourself when you are about to complain about something.
- Compliment others on their accomplishments and things you admire about them!
- When life is hard, be thankful for those who are by your side.
- Focus on quality time with loved ones.
- Practice appreciating yourself! Stand in front of the mirror once a week and name 3 qualities about yourself you admire.
- Be patient. It takes time to practice these things. In time, your perspective will shift, and those parts of the brain focused on the negative will not be as “loud” leading to a better sense of well-being.
How will you get started today?