January 9, 2018

Gratitude



There's been a lot of talk about Gratitude over the last decade or so. Initially, it seemed like a lot of new age hocus-pocus without anything real to back it up. Anybody can make claims; show me the numbers. I'm a pragmatist. I've got better things to do with my time...

But over time, the idea started working its way into my reality. The benefits seemed to make sense, (see below) and the practice sure seemed easy enough, and free, so decided to give it a try.

Before sleep

There's a lot published on the practice of Gratitude. Here's a practical guide. One of the best ways for me is to think of some people and things I'm grateful for right before I go to sleep. I've found that I go to sleep faster.

Morning routine

Another thing I do is to include Gratitude in my morning routine (includes yoga, stretching, breathing, exercise, meditation, affirmations...). For about a year I had a list that I read to myself, but after a while my attention wandered while reading the list, so I recorded my voice reading the list, then added some of my favorite music for background. It's still a work in progress (everything is!), but it works for me. Check it out.

Bottom line: I highly recommend the practice of Gratitude, at least once a day, and to do it until it becomes a Habit, and a strong foundation for a happy and healthy life.

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Here's a summary of some health benefits of Gratitude as recently published in Time.

Gratitude can help you sleep
“Count blessings, not sheep.” Research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research has found that feeling grateful helps people sleep better and longer.

Gratitude can make you more patient
Research from Northeastern University has found that people who felt grateful for little, everyday things were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions, compared to those who didn’t feel very gracious on a day-to-day basis. When 105 undergraduate students were asked to choose between receiving a small amount of money immediately or a larger sum at some point in the future, for example, the students who had shown more gratitude in earlier experiments were able to hold out for more cash.

Gratitude may stop you from overeating
“Gratitude replenishes willpower,” says Susan Peirce Thompson, a cognitive scientist who specializes in the psychology of eating. The concept is similar to the Northeastern research that found a connection between gratitude and patience: Thompson says cultivating feelings of gratitude can boost your impulse control, helping you slow down and make better decisions.


Gratitude can help ease depression
Thompson, the cognitive scientist, says experiments have shown that people whole partake in the “three good things” exercise — which, as the name suggests, prompts people to think of three good moments or things that happened that day — see considerable improvements in depression and overall happiness, sometimes in as little as a couple weeks. “If there were a drug that did that, whoever patented that drug would be rich,” Thompson says. “Gratitude is very powerful.”


Gratitude improves self-care
In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers asked people to rate their levels of gratitude, physical health and psychological health, as well as how likely they were to do wellbeing-boosting behaviors like exercise, healthy eating and going to the doctor. They found positive correlations between gratitude and each of these behaviors, suggesting that giving thanks helps people appreciate and care for their bodies.


Gratitude might improve your relationship
According to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, feeling grateful toward your partner — and vice versa — can improve numerous aspects of your relationship, including feelings of connectedness and overall satisfaction as a couple. This just seems to be common sense.


Gratitude gives you happiness that lasts
Lots of things, from a compliment to a sugary treat, can bring little bursts of happiness. But instant gratification also goes away quickly, which leaves you craving more. Gratitude is something that leads to much more sustainable forms of happiness, because it’s not based in that immediate gratification; it’s a frame of mind. If you regularly take time to express gratitude and thankfulness, you’re likely to see results.