It hasn’t always been believed that there is a strong mind/body connection, though nowadays it is seen as common knowledge with lots of research to back this up. You may have heard the term “Positive Psychology,” and if you’re wondering what it’s all about, gratitude is a perfect example. As we know now, gratitude can be linked to benefits both physically and emotionally. You may even hear now that toxic thoughts can be harmful to our health.
Multiple studies have been done where people are tracked to see ratings of their mood, physical health, and other factors that contribute to happiness. In one study, some were told to either describe five things that they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, or they were told to do the opporite and describe five weekly hassles instead. Those who described gratefulness reported fewer health complaints and even spent more time exercising than the people who described their hassles (to see the full article or to look for other interesting articles on this topic, visit Deepak Chopra’s website: http://www.chopra.com/ccl/how-gratitude-can-make-you-healthier).
Lots of us are looking for more joy in our lives. While it is completely normal, natural and even healthy to have dark days where you let yourself feel however you need, studies also show that those who have an “attitude of gratitude” are found to have lower levels of stress hormones. Gratitude is good for you! It can join together love and empathy, and that can create an actual biochemical shift in the body.
So how can you activate the power of gratitude in your own life?
- Be more in tune with the good things in your life. To keep these thankful moments from being but a fleeting thought, try keeping the “attitude of gratitude” more continuous. Keep a gratitude journal, for instance.
- Though it’s hard to reach out to others sometimes because of the vulnerability factor, expressing your gratitude to and for somebody else forms emotional bonds, and this has been found to be one of the key traits of truly happy people. Loneliness and isolation can create a higher risk of health challenges and mortality, but reversing that and making emotional bonding high on the list of priorities of self-care can be one of the healthiest things that you can do for yourself.
- Are you ready for this exciting piece in gratitude? This may be the most powerful step to try to incorporate into your life because it can set the stage for years of positive reinforcement: Think about gratitude leading to more sympathy, less judgement, and greater appreciation for life; this is setting a blueprint that, over time, can lead to brain changes with amazing benefits. As Deepak Chopra says, adopt gratitude as your “default position” and see where it takes you!
This is not meant to encourage you to ignore the tough days that we all have, but it is a gentle reminder to not get stuck in the darkness for too long. Did you know that our thoughts can change our lives? Study after study is showing just that. Remember that eventually you want to lean towards the light again. Gratitude is a healthy and easy accessable way to do this. Try it and see what happens!