We can get caught up in focusing on what we lack or what we want, meaning we overlook all that we already have. Research has shown that the simple act of gratitude cultivates feelings of positivity and well-being and helps pave the way to long-lasting happiness.
Focusing on gratitude lets you turn the tables on negative thinking, replacing it with a positive mindset that can shift your entire perception. Feeling grateful can take you outside yourself to see the big picture. And suddenly what you lack seems less important than what you have.
Spend a few moments each day saying “thank you” – it will gradually transform your thinking and bring you closer to that place of inner health and well-being that exists within you.
A lot of people don’t think that we have control of our minds – but we do. We decide when we will be happy or sad, spontaneous and joyful or closed off and depressed. Whether we want to believe it or not – it is a decision that we make and whichever emotion we express the most, is where we can actually rewire the brain to function differently. By being joyous, happy and grateful sets of a positive cascade of chemicals that brings about a healthy body – but when we are continually, sad, withdrawn and “down” all the time – this can set off a negative cascade of chemicals that causes ill-health within our bodies.
In my early years of practice I worked in a retirement village – it was the biggest eye opener for me and I wish I had done a thesis on it. What I found was those who were negative in their language, (this includes our negative self-talk) always complaining, dim view of life – their body reflected this. It showed by being constricted, inflexible and riddled with pain. Those who had a positive attitude to life and grateful for everything – their body was open, pliable and they helped out around the home by working in the garden, assisting staff, walking up and down the halls for exercise etc.
So how can we lift our spirits so we have a healthy cascade of body processes? Here are a few choices that you can do:-
- Write a list of all you have to be grateful for. If you are not use to being grateful – this actually can be really hard. But persevere – you might start with only a few things until you get a healthy practice going – then it gets exciting because you start to appreciate all the “little things” that we tend to overlook. Pin it somewhere you’ll see it everyday or refer back to it when negative thoughts start to surface. Challenge yourself to add one new thing to the list each day. Some people even buy a beautiful book and writing pen to write a daily Gratitude Diary. Whatever you do, with regular practice you will see a change in your mindset.
- Practice a short gratitude ritual each night before bed. Reflect on your day and focus on one positive thing that you did. It doesn’t matter how small – it might be a joke shared with a colleague, a moment you felt particularly strong, a spontaneous gesture of kindness you showed or accepted. Give thanks for the moment and linger in the glow of gratitude.
- Write a letter of appreciation to your body. (great if you are struggling with health challenges) Acknowledge and say thank you for all the things your body enabled you to achieve and experience throughout the day. Move your focus away from any perceived failings and think about all that your body empowers you to do in your life.
Whatever you do, a healthy practice around gratitude sets you up to experience more joy in your life – whatever that looks like for you (and it will be different for everyone) – this should always be a part of any wellness program you are undertaking. Enjoy the journey