Gratitude is crucial when it comes to your health. A grateful heart reaps the benefit not only spiritually but physically too.
Studies show a person who is grateful tends to have fewer aches and pains and is in better health than one who is ungrateful. According to Robert Emmons, a leading expert on the scientific effects of gratitude, being grateful has a host of physical benefits, amongst which are:
- a stronger immune system
- lower blood pressure
- better sleep patterns
- and the ability to exercise and be more in control of ones health.
There is a whole community on Facebook dedicated to gratitude and it offers motivation and inspiration to those with chronic illnesses and has seen the positive outcome of this emotion on their members. Here’s what Lauren Blanchard Zalewski, the founder of the group, in a comment on this article had to say about it.
As the founder & admin of the only gratitude-based group on Facebook for people with chronic conditions, I can say that these studies are very factual based on my observations with those who begin a gratitude practice. I started “Attitude of Gratitude With Chronic Pain” in 2014 as a group where no complaining was allowed, and it has evolved into much more than that 3 1/2 years later.
We are now a group over 3,400 strong and you we state our gratitude every single day. We state daily intentions every morning. We have live chats, and we have members who say that after decades of suffering, incorporating gratitude and this way of live has been the biggest and most effective treatment EVER given to them….they are HAPPY. Many report that physical symptoms have lessened…that is certainly the case for me and I’ve lived with lupus & fibromyalgia for almost 20 years.
So we know how being grateful can help our health and well being. Want to learn how you can incorporate it into your day and even instill it in your kids? Read on…
Several studies suggest that there is a positive effect of prayer on a person’s level of gratitude. As such prayer seems to be an emerging tool used for therapy by clinicians. Seeing that prayer is the method used to thank God, it seems probable that praying more would be associated with higher levels of gratitude.
Teach your kids the relationship between the two when they’re young so that they can understand the connection and use this to help themselves as adults.
2. keep a gratitude journal
Putting our blessings down on paper has double the impact. When we ‘see’ the blessings put on paper we are bound to internalize the emotion even more. Find some time in your day and jot down what you are grateful for. You can do it first thing in the morning or just before going to bed. The exercise doesn’t have to be time consuming. Just get a small notebook and put down 3-5 things you are grateful for daily and be consistent.
You can make it a practice before bed to list a few blessings with your kids as a part of their night time routine. Vocalizing them will reenforce gratitude.
3. help the needy
There’s nothing like seeing those who are less fortunate than you to make you feel thankful for what you have. I recently volunteered at a food bank where we assembled lunch boxes for low income school aged children in after school programs. We were told that this is most likely the only decent meal the kids would be getting that day. To hear this brought a lot of things into perspective for me. We see a lot of poverty around the world and I know there are a lot of low income neighborhoods in First World American but this was very close to home.
I plan on taking my kids there soon in an effort to have them feel less like they are entitled and more to being of service to others.
4. thank those around you
Making it a habit to be grateful to those around you can cultivate gratitude too. This not only nurtures relationships between two people but motivates employees to perform better when employers show gratitude and recognition.
Gratitude is stressed upon in and is the foundation of most all major world religions. Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism all promote gratitude to God and your fellow man. We always knew how it supported us spiritually but now we have proof that it is necessary for our physical well being too!
Do you have any tips you can add to this list? I’d love to know!
Read next: Gratitude~ Not Just at Thanksgiving