Get Grateful with WHyyc

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend! Tis the season for GRATITUDE. Well, gratitude is always seasonal, but our society definitely highlights it this weekend, so I want to share some practices & information about gratitude that can deepen your experience!

gratitude 101  ::

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals

Gratitude can have such a powerful impact on your life because it engages your brain in a virtuous cycle. Your brain only has so much power to focus its attention. It cannot easily focus on both positive and negative stimuli. It’s not always easy to remember to be grateful, particularly since the human brain is so adaptable. Gratitude takes practice like any other skill.

the research  ::

Over the years, studies have proven that gratitude is linked to greater life satisfaction, increased social support and decreased rates of stress and depression.

  • In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
  • One study by a couple of American researchers assigned young adults to keep a daily journal of things they were grateful for (Emmons and McCullough, 2003). They assigned other groups to journal about things that annoyed them, or reasons why they were better off than others. The young adults assigned to keep gratitude journals showed greater increases in determination, attention, enthusiasm and energy compared to the other groups.
  • In another study with adults (Emmons and McCullough, 2003) showed that even a weekly gratitude journal was beneficial. Subjects assigned to journal weekly on gratitude showed greater improvements in optimism. That makes sense. But that’s not all; it also influenced their behaviors. Keeping a gratitude journal also caused greater improvements in exercise patterns. Lastly, it also caused a reduction in physical ailments, so these subjects had fewer aches and pains (tired of your carpal tunnel syndrome? Be grateful you don’t have a headache).
  • Another study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined blood flow in various brain regions while subjects summoned up feelings of gratitude (Zahn et al, 2009). They found that subjects who showed more gratitude overall had higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus. This is important because the hypothalamus controls a huge array of essential bodily functions, including eating, drinking and sleeping. It also has a huge influence on your metabolism and stress levels. From this evidence on brain activity it starts to become clear how improvements in gratitude could have such wide-ranging effects from increased exercise, and improved sleep to decreased depression and fewer aches and pains. Furthermore, feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the “reward” neurotransmitter. But dopamine is also almost important in initiating action.

how to practice gratitude ::

Here are ways to practice gratitude!

  • START A GRATITUDE JOURNAL  //  Studies involving gratitude journals have determined that those who used one were more positive and happier. Increased positivity may help you feel like you can overcome any obstacle. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.
  • WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE  //  You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month.
  • THANK SOMEONE MENTALLY  //  If you don’t have time to journal or write a note, it may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
  • MAKE TIME FOR POSITIVITY  //  Find time throughout the day to share with your co-workers, partner, or child a few good, positive things about your day. Then, ask the same from them. Or, you all can share a journal to write down these thoughts.
  • GET A BOOK ON GRATITUDE  //   Books can be great teachers.
  • MEDITATE  //  Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.). Looking for meditation inspiration? Reach out and I’ll share free resources with you! Or schedule a 15 minute free consultation by visiting www.wholistichealthyyc.com/connect

Stay tuned for more posts on gratitude coming at you this weekend!