Trade Your Stress For Gratitude – Be Happier, Healthier And Live Longer!!

Enchanted Rock

For me Thanksgiving time is a really big reminder and opportunity to focus heavily on everything and everyone that I am thankful for. Sometimes we get so busy with life and just getting everything done from day to day that we forget about all the amazing little miracles that are going on around us every day, all day long!

Sometimes something will happen – like getting sick and feeling really, really crappy, having dental surgery, a broken bone or something else that kicks us in the butt big time – to remind us how awesome just feeling “normal” really is! And this is just the baseline!! All those other things – like the house over our heads, a cozy bed, snuggling with someone we love, the furnace keeping us warm from the freezing cold, the yummy nutritious food we have to eat, the warm clothes we wear, the refreshing water or nice hot cup of tea we have to drink, kind hugs from a dear friend, lover, child (etc.), playing peek-a-boo with a baby and laughing til you get tears in your eyes, the happy kisses from a dog, sunshine brightening the day, the smell of lovely flowers filling the air, listening to a favorite song, and so on – add even more layers of really amazing awesomeness on top of the baseline!!

The other great thing about it is that practicing the observation of gratitude not only feels really good for us (and others in our lives), but for centuries Yoga Masters have taught the benefit of it and current studies are confirming that many areas of your life benefit from it, including your health! Some of the things that you may notice when you regularly appreciate others and/or the positive things in your life are:

  • Reduced aggression
  • Increased feelings of altruism, empathy and warmth; including a greater desire to treat friends, family, and strangers with more kindness
  • A reduction in symptoms of depression, and anxiety,but an increase in optimism
  • Having more trust in others
  • Higher amounts of motivation to do and achieve more
  • Higher amounts of satisfaction from relationships
  • More ease in dealing with criticism/less sensitivity to others’ negativity
  • Sleeping better and awaking more refreshed
  • Less probability of developing a drug or alcohol problem
  • A lowered risk of having an eating disorder
  • Ability for a quicker recovery from post-traumatic stress  (read more here)

You may be wondering just how you exercise this muscle of gratitude… Wonder not longer! Here are a few suggestions for adopting an attitude of gratitude so you can also enjoy the benefits:

  • Keep a Gratitude Journal. In the seventeenth century, a Dutch philosopher, Rabbi Baruch Spinoza, suggested that we ask ourselves the following three questions, each day for 30 days:
    1. Who or what inspired me today?
    2. What brought me happiness today?
    3. What brought me comfort and deep peace today?  (read more here)
      Rabbi Spinoza felt this would not only help us find more meaning and joy in our lives but also potentially lead to profound inner transformation.
  • Lie in bed for a few minutes after your alarm has gone off, noticing things that you are happy are a part of your life.
  • Write thank you letters or cards. Make a list of several people who have touched your life powerfully and write them a thank you letter. You can keep adding to the list of names as you notice people you appreciate and intermittently send them a letter or card of appreciation. (People are often unaware of how strongly they have affected others and will be delighted to hear it.)
  • Notice opportunities to do nice things for others and take them or create them intermittently. These can be as simple as saying thank you for something you appreciated, giving a hug, smiling at someone (even a stranger), surprising someone with flowers or just a phone call to say hi and see how they are doing and let them know that you were thinking of them.
  • Set a reminder alarm or notification on your phone to remind you throughout the day to think about what you are grateful for right then. (This can even be a little game you play with yourself to be creative in that moment about what you are grateful for.)
  • Leave notes around your house, work and even in your car, about things you are grateful for and to take a minute to remember them. (These are great reminders for gratitude even on a busy day.)
  • Go for a gratitude walk. Any time you feel a lot of stress, this can be a lifesaver! Get outside (bonus points if you can walk in a beautiful setting) and walk for 10-20 minutes (longer if you have the time and really need it). While you walk, focus your attention on the things you are grateful for, breathe deep, and be sure to notice the things along your journey that you are grateful for as well (this could be majestic trees, lovely flowers, inspiring architecture, friendly faces, sunny days, the sound of flowing water or a gentle breeze, etc).
  • Create a bonding ritual with your spouse, lover, friend, child, or family, where you share what you are grateful for about your day and about each other. This can be very powerful to cultivate closeness, love and appreciation. I recommend heavy doses of this one!!  : )

May all these ideas help you on your journey and provide more joy and gratitude for you and your family.

Blessings to you and thank you for all the loving parenting you do; it makes a better world, one Sweetie at a time.

Hug attached,

Koolma  : )

 

What rituals or exercises do you use to cultivate gratitude in your life?    Do you have any stories of how practicing gratitude has affected your life?

We’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section so we can help each other; remember, we are all in this together!

 

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