Are you getting your MDR (Minimum Daily Requirement) of gratitude? Harvard Medical School reminds us that “the word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness”. Who doesn’t want more grace in their life?
It’s no surprise that gratitude is strongly correlated with greater happiness and better relationships. The emotional and social benefits of expressing positive emotions are fairly intuitive. But even more exciting for students of Oriental medicine is the dramatic effect that gratitude has on physical health.
Perhaps in part because grateful people are more motivated to take care of their health, they:
- Experience fewer aches and pains.
- Have 10 percent fewer stress-related illnesses.
- Have stronger immune systems.
- Have fewer illness-related doctor visits.
- Recover faster from certain medical procedures.
- Report more physical vitality.
- Enjoy greater mental vigor.
- Exercise more often.
- Are more likely to schedule regular check-ups with their physicians.
- Can add up to 7 years to their lifespan thanks to the positive emotions they generate.
If you know someone with high blood pressure, tell him or her about a 2007 study that found counting blessings just once a week can decrease systolic blood pressure by up to 12 percent.
Battling insomnia? Spend just 5 to 10 minutes before bed logging in a few things you’re grateful for. Like the participants in a 2011 study, you’ll probably fall asleep more quickly, sleep more soundly, sleep longer, and wake feeling far more refreshed.
Expressing gratitude for the material resources and money that you have, no matter how meager they may feel, is one of the best ways to restore flow and balance to your finances. Deliberately cultivating appreciation and blessing what you do have unblocks the flow of positive energy, removes negative influences, and allows you to attract the prosperity you deserve. Keep this energy in motion by letting abundance flow through you, not just to you. Give as generously as you can of your time, attention, and energy if finances are temporarily tight.
Benefits in Hard Times
Studies show that grateful people are more resilient. They’re more inclined to avail themselves of social support, less prone to develop PTSD, and more likely to grow in stressful times.
Leading gratitude researcher, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, believes that when crisis hits our lives, not only does an attitude of gratitude help us -- it’s an essential coping and survival strategy:
“In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope.”
Start Reaping Gratitude's Benefits Today
We’re moving into the final months of the Year of the Fire Monkey in the Chinese Zodiac. If 2016 did not turn out exactly as you hoped, it’s not too late to set new energy in motion. Like any habit, cultivating gratitude grows stronger with use and practice.
Light the fires of grateful appreciation in your heart and mind by jotting down three things every night from the day for which you are thankful. You can even download a gratitude journal app to your phone.
If you’d really like to transform your life, once a month, write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who has never been properly thanked for a kindness bestowed on you. Like study participants who did just that, your happiness score might just rise off the chart.