There is a magic to gratitude. By adding gratitude to a difficult situation it can shift and by adding gratitude to a wonderful experience it stays with us longer.
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions.”
– Zig Ziglar
As humans, we are prone to dwell on the negative but gratitude adds weight to positive situations. Having a gratitude practice does a couple of important things.
1. Looking for things in your life to be grateful for forces you to look for the good in difficult situations. Even if we are “faking” gratitude at first, we can begin to harvest it.
2. When we think about what we are grateful for, we will notice what arrives at us as a blessing and gift and what we are clinging on to and cannot do without. These are different situations and seeing where we are needing something shows us some of our weaknesses and places we may need healing. Remember, healing is to make whole.
Science tells us that gratitude helps us mentally by making our thoughts more positive, we feel more aware, and we are able to communicate. It helps us emotionally by increasing our mood and helps us feel more satisfied. Spiritually, gratitude builds stronger relationships and we have more empathy for ourselves and others. And, physically, with a gratitude practice we can increase our immune system, we have fewer aches and pain, we can lower our blood pressure, and we can have better sleep cycles.
In a study from 2008, Russell and Fosha found that "thanking others, thanking ourselves, Mother Nature or the Almighty – gratitude in any form can enlighten the mind and make us feel happier. It has a healing effect on us". Gratitude is medicine.
Think about this, the first step in feeling gratitude is to receive. This morning as I was taking the dog for a walk, there was one point where the sun was straight in front of me. It was this that prompted the idea that receiving came first. I closed my eyes and received the light and warmth the sun was offering. I let it all in. It was a magical experience that fed me down to my soul. I am so grateful for that moment. It made me feel important and blessed.
According to gratefulness.org, expressing gratitude bolsters self-worth and self-esteem.
Gratitude helps people cope with stress and trauma. It can help build social bonds - strengthening existing relationships and nurturing new ones. Expressing gratitude tends to inhibit comparisons with others. Gratitude dissolves negative feelings: anger and jealousy melt in its embrace, fear and defensiveness shrink.
I challenge you to keep with a gratitude practice all year. I urge you to sit with gratitude and then listen with gratitude. Listening has been my greatest teacher. It is my gratitude practice that encourages me to step forward and proclaim that I am worthy to teach and share online. Some days it feels truer than other days but I am the only one with the power to make that decision. So, I encourage you in the same way; show up in your life, receive gifts of love, light, warmth, money, relationships, support, and all that this life offers.