Do you regularly express gratitude? It turns out that an "attitude of gratitude" is not only wise for building positive relationships, but good for your health.
"If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world's best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system," Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, expert in brain and mind health.
There are more reasons than you think for expressing gratitude. Beside the positive effects on health, gratitude brings about an increased ability to cope with stress, anxiety, and sleep problems.
Studies have shown that gratitude can produce measurable effects on a number of systems in your body, including:
· Mood neurotransmitters
· Reproductive hormones
· Blood sugar
· Blood pressure and cardiac rhythms
· Stress hormones
· Inflammatory and immune systems
· Cognitive neurotransmitters
If you take your well-being seriously, you may want to increase the frequency at which you feel and express gratitude.
The Study of Gratitude
Traditionally, psychologists have focused on understanding distress rather than positive emotions. However, with the current focus on Positive Psychology, scientists are now looking at gratitude to understand the experience of the emotion, individual differences in frequency, and the relationship between these two aspects.
Some studies have looked at the connection between spirituality and gratitude. There is a link between those who regularly attend religious services and people who experience a greater sense of gratitude in all areas of life.
So much of the Bible points readers towards gratitude in verses like:
2 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Imagine that the will of God for all of us is to give thanks, be grateful. God’s will is for our best and our best rises when we are grounded in an attitude of gratitude.
Psalm 136:1 “This is the day the Lord has made; let’s rejoice and be glad in it!”
Researchers have also looked at the obstacles to gratitude and found self-absorption and entitlement as impediments.
When you are preoccupied with yourself, it is easy to forget your benefits and benefactors.
With an attitude of “I deserve this,” or “you owe me,” or “life owes me,” grievances will always outnumber blessings.
According to Mark T. Mitchell, professor of political science at Patrick Henry College in Virginia:
Gratitude is born of humility, for it acknowledges the giftedness of the creation and the benevolence of a Creator. This recognition gives birth to acts marked by attention and responsibility. Ingratitude, on the other hand, is marked by hubris, which denies the gift, and this always leads to inattention, irresponsibility, and abuse.
The power of gratitude is accessible to all. Given the important link to health and wellbeing, it makes sense to increase our experience of feeling grateful.
What are you doing to pay attention to this key emotion and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude? I’d love to hear from you. Here is my CALENDAR to make connecting simple
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