The key to *WELLNESS* (and no - it's not a "superfood")

One word: GRATITUDE. Plus a quote from Oprah to kick off this post: “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

Throughout our everyday hustle filled with endless to-do lists, it's often easy to forget that each and every day is truly a gift and there is always something to be thankful for. While Merriam & Webster defines gratitude as "thankfulness", it really is SO much more than that.

According to Robert A. Emmons, Ph. D., a professor of Psychology at UC Davis, who has done a great deal of research on gratitude, physical health and psychological well-being, gratitude is an "emotion that allows us to express appreciation for what we have while also acknowledge that other people (or even higher powers) gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”

Don't get me wrong, I'm the first person to boast the power that both diet and exercise have to improve our lives and overall well-being, but after a discussion last month with my husband and sister about gratitude I realized practicing it was a big thing missing from my current routine. 

A little background info on what led me to realizing the importance of practicing gratitude... I spent the weekend before New Year's day with my husband in Boston visiting my sister. As we were discussing our intentions and goals for the year my husband brought up an article he read on gratitude and it's health benefits. We ended up spending a good amount of time on this topic, which lead us to do some more digging. We found several articles and even studies written about gratitude and it's relation to wellness (see my last post for my own definition of "wellness"). 

I quickly ordered 'The Five Minute Journal' off Amazon (check the shop page of my website to order one for yourself) after learning the benefits gratitude journaling offers. I've been using it religiously since and have already felt the positive change it has had in my life.

To no surprise to me after starting gratitude journaling this month, Emmons and his team have studied more than one thousand people, from ages eight to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of amazing benefits including the following:

Top 3 Benefits of Gratitude and how it can help you be YOUR best:

  1. Gratitude makes us happier overall by...

    • Increasing levels of positive emotions

    • Making us more alert, alive, and awake

    • Adding more joy and pleasure to our lives

    • Increasing optimism and happiness

  2. Practicing gratitude may provide the following physical benefits:

    • Improved immune system

    • Less aches and pains

    • Lower blood pressure

    • Increased activity levels/self care

    • Improved sleep

  3. Gratitude can also help improve our relationships with others by making people...

    • More helpful, generous, and compassionate

    • More empathetic

    • More forgiving

    • More outgoing

    • Feel less lonely and isolated

To sum up all those benefits, if everyone practiced more gratitude the world would be a much better place!

See below for a few tips on how to improve your grATTITUDE :)

  1. Each day, think of 3 things you are grateful for :)

  2. Even better than thinking of things you are grateful for is writing these things down and start a gratitude journal. Making a commitment to writing down good things each day makes it more likely that we will keep track of good things as they happen thus being able to focus more on the positives in life as well.

  3. Avoid complaining or passing judgment for an entire day.

  4. Say thank you more often and BE PRESENT.

Sources:

1. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/profile/Robert_Emmons

2. https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/gratitude-appreciation/

3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/gratitude

 

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