“Count your blessings”. Say, “Thank you”. It’s very likely that you heard these statements from your parents and grandparents, elders or spiritual teachers.
Like many children you may have ended your day with nightly prayers or affirmations. The adults in your life coached you to say what you were thankful for and to ask for special blessings for those you love. If you ever forgot to say thank you, your caregivers reminded you until it became a seamless practice.
These early gratitude practices were an introduction to reciprocity. What you give comes back to you. In recognizing the good around you, you become a magnet for more good.
And today researchers have joined the ranks of those touting the power of gratitude. Recently, I reviewed some research on the power of gratitude among adolescents. Teens who practiced gratitude were described as more hopeful. They had greater life satisfaction and were less likely to be involved in cheating, drinking or drug use.
Gratitude has been reliably associated with a range of emotional, physical and relationship benefits. Here are a few:
Being grateful leaves us feeling better, happier, and more peaceful. When we go through tough times, we may be better able to recover.
Improved immune function.
Enhanced cardio-vascular health including lower blood pressure and increased desire to exercise.
Better sleep cycles. More restful sleep.
Being grateful helps to strengthen our bodies and it also seems to make us want to exercise. Then, when we exercise, our “gratitude attitude” may help us get even more benefits like improved heart health.
Gratitude helps us see the good in others and the ways they make our lives better. Seeing the wonderful ways others impact our lives seems to make us more caring and more likely to practice forgiveness in our relationships.
Let’s Do It! – 5 Ways to Practice Gratitude
Keep a gratitude journal. Write 3 – 5 things you’re thankful for in your journal each day. Really get into the feeling of being thankful.
Say thank you to others. When you say thank you, engage with the other person or people. Look at them in their eyes, shake their hand, smile. Let them know you really appreciate them.
Create a gratitude collage. This can be a small, framed collage or a large poster board. Pick what works for you. Be creative with colors that appeal to you. Place it on your wall to remind you of events, people, places or things that you truly appreciate. Or take a photograph and make it the wallpaper on your smart phone or computer.
Practice gratitude meditation. Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths. Center yourself and think of something that you appreciate. Allow yourself to get into the feelings, the sights and sounds and all the sensory experiences associated with that moment.
Write down your accomplishments. Keep track of the ways that you grow and improve. Be thankful for you.
A Course in Miracles states, in truth giving and receiving are one. Gratitude opens our hearts to the fact that reciprocity works both ways. In the moment that we express thankfulness, we attract unlimited good into our lives.
© Sandra Y. Lewis