Who me? Now? Be grateful with all this going on? Grateful – hmmm.
Maybe those thoughts crossed your mind when you saw this headline. Or maybe you thought:
is there really a need for an international day to be grateful?
Well, maybe the answer is a loud: “you betcha,” that now more than any other time we all could use a break in our “daily thing” to stop, take a breath and think of oh, say 3 things/people/stuff for which we are grateful.
And guess what, being grateful costs nothing but its benefits are numerous and scientifically shown to be huge to our own health and well-being. If you and I were simply to stop even once a day to feel gratitude, we would literally live longer and more happily while we are alive! What if we were to start our day, every day, with a fresh list of 10? (It’s not cheating to be grateful for your breath.) How do you think it might benefit you?
Grateful people are apparently healthy people because research shows that practicing gratitude slows the effects of the brain’s ordinary neurodegeneration and also in turn leads to decreased inflammation and lower blood pressure!
Studies further show that when we practice appreciation, our bodies release the hormone oxytocin which expands blood vessels, reduces blood pressure, and protects our heart. Oxytocin has been treasured because it’s known to deepen our relationships and helps us feel more connected to others. Oxytocin similarly supports us to build a network of family and friends, which in turn is known to result in a longer and healthier life.
“Expressing gratitude can positively change your brain,” says expert Kristin Francis, MD, a psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute. She explains that doing so, “also boosts dopamine and serotonin, the neurotransmitters in the brain that improve your mood immediately, giving you those positive feelings of pleasure, happiness, and well-being.”
There are numerous practices people have adopted for expanding their experiences of gratitude. Some write letters of gratitude – and the courageous even share them with those referenced in the gratitude letter. People keep gratitude journals in a whole variety of ways – even dictating into their phones. There are so many ways – even in your car at a stoplight – you can take time to take a long, deep, conscious grateful breath.
You are important to us so please share over time with this blog what you’ve learned from practicing and expressing gratitude.