By Eric Spencer on December 18, 2018
“If thankfulness were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” – DR. P. MURALI DORAISWAMY
Do you regularly express gratitude? I mean, on purpose, and for little reason. How often do you look someone in the eye and say, “Thank you for doing that”? I don’t do this nearly as often as I should, but have been paying a lot of attention to gratitude lately. It’s like an “apple a day,” but it actually works!
It turns out that being grateful is not only wise for building better relationships, but it’s also good for your health.
Gratitude brings about an increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and improves sleep. Study after study has shown that gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of physiological systems in your body. Paul Mills, a professor of family medicine and public health at the University of California, San Diego completed a STUDY that showed having a grateful heart led to a healthier heart.
There’s been a groundswell of work in the ‘positive psychology’ space lately. Researchers like SHAWN ACHOR (Harvard) and DAN GILBERT (Harvard) are focused on happiness, and what actually triggers and drives happiness in humans. Achor’s SIX EXERCISES FOR HAPPINESS are grounded in gratitude, and show that these practices actually change the size of the neural pathways in the human brain! Practicing gratitude makes it easier to notice what we are grateful for, in that we are continuously scanning the world for what is positive.
If a grateful heart is a healthier heart, what can you do? It’s not that hard, really. Here are a few practical tips for bringing gratitude into focus:
Make it Part of Your Day – Just take a couple of minutes each day to formally reflect on what you’re grateful for. Whether that’s a moment of meditation or self-reflection or a shared ritual with friends or family. Take the time to make it an “official” part of your routine. When my children were younger (and around more often for dinnertime), we would begin the meal by stating one thing that we were grateful for that day. It was a simple way to connect with each other about the things that mattered to us all in our lives at that moment. Relationships were strengthened, neural pathways enlarged, and hearts, healthier.