Practicing gratitude, being cognizant of even life's small miracles can improve your physical and mental health.
Feeling gratitude and expressing thanks is a simple, powerful and proven way to live happier and healthier. Living life though the lens of gratitude means taking the time to notice and reflect every day on things large and small for which you are thankful. Even in the most difficult circumstances, there are still things for which you can be grateful. It may sound silly, but because you are alive you can, as yoga teaches us, always feel grateful for your breath. The feeling of gratitude immediately opens the heart and connects to wisdom and love.
But don't take my word for it. There is a large body of scientific research demonstrating gratitude has a long list of measurable benefits to our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing. Being mindful of the small miracles, those that happen every day, stimulates the biochemistry of wellbeing. The immune system subsequently enjoys a boost from the positive emotion of gratitude, contributing to greater physical health and mental focus. Feeling grateful also dissipates anxiety and lowers blood pressure. A spiritual benefit is that being thankful significantly adds to feelings of support and connection with the miracle of all life.
Thankfully, gratitude is easy to learn and to practice. As always, it requires only that elusive idea: "You have to want to." However, if necessary, you can also fake it till you make it. Here are some ways to go about reaping the benefits of gratitude on Thanksgiving and every day. And here's hoping you will.
Three Gratitude Exercises to Practice at Thanksgiving Dinner (Or During Any Meal)
1. Be silent for a few minutes, close your eyes and try on the feeling (no content, simply the feeling) of gratitude for life.
2. The science behind the age-old tradition of blessing your food is that food and water upgrade their molecular structure in response to positive human thoughts and emotions. Try it. Place your hands over your food, pause, close your eyes and allow yourself to experience gratitude for the meal you are about to enjoy. Try and feel the energy in your heart extend down your arms to your hands and into the food.
3. Take the time to focus on any of the foods on your plate, and bring to mind all the people, in all the places, in all the steps along the way - including animals and plants, natural resources, modes of transport, technology and preparation - involved in bringing this one food item to your table. This is a "wow" about connection and gratitude.
Two Gratitude Exercises to Keep it Going
1. Research indicates that listing five things for which you are grateful before you go to sleep every night and/or when you wake up in the morning will have lasting positive effects on your life. You can say these silently to yourself, or aloud, or write them in a notebook. Some people keep a gratitude notebook on their night table. Keep this fresh by not repeating the same five things every day.
2. Take a large empty glass jar and place it on the kitchen counter or in your office in a central place with a pad of paper and a pen nearby. Whenever there is something in your day for which you are thankful, take a moment, write it down, fold the paper and put it in the jar. Once a week or once a month, or maybe every New Year's Eve, re-read everything in the jar. Enjoy the bounty of your blessings, empty the jar and start anew.
Lastly, keep in mind that the more you focus on authentic feelings of gratitude, more things to be grateful for will show up in your experience! That's the Law of Attraction in action. PJH