The Wonder of Gratitude
"Thank you" is a powerful word. It can completely change the mood of both the person saying it, and the person it is being said to.
Gratitude has become a widely explored topic in recent times. The scientific research that is being published from universities conducting such experiments from all over the world is amazing. The wonderful journey that researching the topic of gratitude has personally taken me on, has been needless to say, quite profound.
I have slowly come to the understanding that gratitude is very much, multi-faceted. The research demonstrating the efficacy of either expressing, or receiving acts or words of gratitude can have incredible impact on a person. It also suggests that gratitude could quite possibly be associated with many benefits for individuals, including better physical and psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, more positive and lasting relationships, the desire for materialistic possessions, and much more.
Neurologically, when gratitude is expressed or received, our brains release dopamine and serotonin. Both of these neurotransmitters play a pivotal role in allowing us to experience positive, 'feel good' emotions. They essentially enhance our mood immediately, and make us feel happy.
So, what can we do to help us feel a sense of gratitude, and cultivate it in our day to day lives? With a regular practice of giving and receiving gratitude in a variety of different ways, the molecular structure of the human brain literally changes, keeping gray matter functioning, therefore resulting in health positive habits forming over time.
Here are a few practices to try..
Meditation: Mindfulness meditation allows you to focus your conscious attention on the here and now. The present moment. During this quiet, tranquil moment, some people choose to let their attention flow to things in their life that bring them feelings of happiness, and instil a sense of calm.
A Letter of Gratitude: For many, a letter of thanks and appreciation screams a thousand words. It can brighten up someone's day... or week.... and bring a great deal of comfort and joy. Expressing your gratitude in a letter... regardless of length, is a wonderful way of discovering positive emotions. Inevitably, you will find a flow that you didn't know existed, as you become enthralled in making very prominent points and acknowledging the good in someone you care about.
Gratitude Journaling: Making space in your life to create what will eventually become a HEALTHY addictive habit, will be a journey you will be thankful you ventured down. Dedicate a time in your day (mine is at night before I go to bed) where you jot down all things in your day that you are grateful for. Expressing thanks and feeling the joy that these moments have brought you will initiate a beautiful sense of appreciation.
'Count My Blessings' Jar: Just as some people have a 'swear' jar, or a 'summer holiday' jar, you can create a 'count my blessings' jar. Each time you feel blessed by something, or by someone in your day, write it down on a piece of paper, and pop it in your beautiful jar. At the end of the year, (or a time of your choice) open up your jar to revisit and reflect upon all the amazing things, moments and people in your life that have brought you joy and happiness. This is truly a beautiful way to reflect, and feel thankful.