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Being grateful is good for you

heart ornament with I am grateful printed on it

Another practice that goes along with being mindful is being grateful. Living life with an "attitude of gratitude" not only helps your current mood, but research shows that it helps you age well. According to multiple studies, the practice of gratitude can show the following lasting physical and psychological effects: improved immune function and heart health including lower blood pressure; increased restful and efficient sleep; diminished stress and anxiety; decreased depression; greater optimism and happiness; increased overall well-being; strengthened self-esteem; more openness to forgiveness; and, improved self-care.

When we focus on the positive, it engages our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The PNS is the calming part of our nervous system that has protective benefits leading to decreased cortisol levels and increased oxytocin, which helps us feel in a better mood. In order to use the power of the positive, get in the routine or habit of asking yourself some daily questions to help acknowledge the good in your life.

  • How was I kind today? Who was kind to me?
  • What have I received today? What have I given to others today?
  • What was a simple joy I experienced?
  • What was unexpected in a good way?
  • What was good?
  • Who am I thankful or grateful for?

"How do I get in on this?" you may ask. Simply acknowledge and appreciate the good. It is a state of mind, like being positive. It can transform you, but it may require a little practice until it becomes routine or second nature. There are multiple ways to bring this habit into your life. Some find it helpful to utilize tools. Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Keep a journal or notebook and each day write down three to five things for which you are grateful.
  2. Send thank you cards to those that you are grateful for on a regular basis.
  3. Meditate or focus on being mindful of your gratitude daily.
  4. Pray or give thanks daily.

"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Oprah Winfrey.

Original post written by Chelsey Byers and published on Family Files, January 2018