The Power of Gratitude

You've heard it a million times, "Count your blessings".  But sometimes, that can be really hard.  Sometimes life feels hard.  A bad mood, a bad day, a bad month, can get anyone down - why would you possibly want to count your blessings then?

Well, because it might be the very thing that turns your bad mood, bad day, or bad month, around.  More and more research is emerging that shows that focusing on and expressing gratitude can actually change the way you feel, and change the way you perceive your life.  Yes, a good day can make you feel grateful, but also it turns out, feeling grateful can give you a good day.

In this HuffPost article, research from UC Davis and U of Miami showed that "participants in the gratitude [journaling] group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the... group [that journaled about daily hassles]. They reported fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more".

This NY Times article described the effects of gratitude, "Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners. A new study shows that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked..."

Many more studies exist, although I will not post them here.  They are out there in the interwebs for anyone interested in more verification - but if you'd rather, take it from me....gratitude is good for you, whether you feel grateful at this moment or not.  Beginning to cultivate gratitude sometimes requires effort, and can feel like another task on your to-do list at first, but over time it becomes habit (that's how our brains work, what we repeatedly do becomes easier and easier and even moves into our automatic thinking).

If you are interested in cultivating gratitude, consider journaling (either writing or drawing) or mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga.  Choose a moment in the day (like just before bed) to jot down the things you are grateful for that could be as simple as a warm cup of tea and getting home from work 20 minutes earlier.  

There's no better time to be grateful than on Thanksgiving - give it a shot, and watch your moods and perspectives shift toward the positive!