There is a paradox sweeping across the nation. We freely admit that we're in the most technologically advanced age that the world has seen. Creature comforts are a switch of a light or a turn of a faucet away.
We're interconnected to friends and family members who live across seas and our knowledge of the world around us has increased exponentially.
Yet, many us of use technology to hurt or bully one another. We abuse creature comforts like warm tasty food to the point where we're overeating. We use the technology that connects us to our friends and families to compare ourselves to them and their "perfect" lives.
And though we know more about the world around us than the ancients could have dreamed, we know less of ourselves than ever before.
And for all of the advances that we have made as a society, our health still suffers.
Many of the diseases that ravage our nation, like diabetes and heart disease, are lifestyle related and yet conventional medicine seems at a loss to help.
So what can you do?
Gratitude is an emotion of appreciation for everything that you have. Gratitude seeks to enjoy life's experiences and treasures.
Being grateful isn't about sugar coating your life experiences or pretending that you have something that you don't. It's not abut comparing yourself to another or anticipating receiving more.
It's a practice of being in the moment and appreciating that moment fully.
But, I don't have anything to be be grateful for, you say?
I pray that's not true. You don't have to be grateful only if you have a new shiny car or got a big promotion. You can be grateful for a crisp autumn day filled with rich bold colors. You can be grateful for a hot cup of cocoa on a cold winter day.
You can be grateful for the concerned text of a friend, a warm hug from your child, or a sweet snuggle from your favorite pet.
You can be grateful for your cozy bed after a long day of work or for binging on your favorite tv show.
Gratitude isn't about being happy that you've got more. It's about being happy about what you have.
And the more grateful you are, the healthier you'll be.
Gratitude has been linked to greater optimism and less negative emotions, less depression, improved sleep, more physical activity, better nutrition, and an improved ability to deal with hardships.
One study followed those with acute coronary syndrome, an umbrella term for conditions ranging from angina to heart attack, over a 6 month period and found that those who were more grateful had less hospitalizations and were more compliant to medical recommendations .
Being grateful was also shown to lower heart rate when compared to being resentful .
Expressing gratitude has clear effects on not just the mind but the body and total wellbeing.
So how do you start practicing gratitude if you're not used to being grateful?
Start with a few minutes a day, say 2-3 minutes and write down 3 things that you are grateful for. It doesn't have to be big. Maybe you're grateful for a job to pay for your home or you're thankful that you woke up this morning.
After you write down your 3 things, take a another 2 minutes to sit down and verbally express your gratitude. Your words have power so say them out loud!
The more you speak it, the more it solidifies your gratitude in your mind and the more you'll believe it.
After speaking out your gratitude, make an effort to smile. Studies show that when you smile, you become happier, whether you were or weren't happy before .
Make a daily effort to incorporate practicing gratitude in your life and you'll see your mental and physical health bloom!
Your turn! Do you practice being grateful? How has it worked for you? Let me know in the comments!