Turns out positive vibes aren’t just for hippies. There are now many scientific studies showing that positive thoughts are beneficial to our health.
Exciting news? Yes! What’s a great way to cultivate positive thoughts? Yup, you guessed it . . . feeling grateful. This isn’t just the surface “Thank you” when someone does something nice for us, this is the deeper feeling. You know, the one you feel when someone does something you weren’t expecting, or you smell fresh cut grass and feel grateful for the fun memories you have as a kid playing outside with your friends, or maybe a scary diagnosis comes back all clear, someone you love arrives home safely; you know, those times when you can literally feel the energy of gratitude.
When we take time to think about, and allow ourselves to feel grateful for, the goodness in our lives, it has a definite positive affect on our well-being and overall health.
For those who need proof, there are now many studies accomplishing just that. Fascinating to me is when a functional MRI was done, while those in one study were thinking about being grateful for something in their life, there was noticeable increased brain activity in the medial pre-frontal cortex. That area of our brain is massively connected to the systems in our body and brain that regulate emotion as well as support the process of stress relief, per the neuroscientist interviewed. That’s some good stuff!
Practicing gratitude has some powerful affects on our overall health:
- Feeling more joyful
- Less aches and pains
- Better able to handle life’s challenges
- Build stronger relationships
- Reduce the effects of toxic emotions
- Better sleep Improve self esteem
- Lower stress levels
- Opens us up to more opportunitis
Gratitude also gives us a feeling of connection. Most times when we’re feeling grateful, it’s directly related to other people, nature or a higher power. Here’s an interesting twist, when someone is grateful for YOU, get good at being a gracious receiver of that gratitude. Otherwise, you would be taking away from their feelings of gratitude!
Want to create more Habits of Gratitude?
- Keep a Joy Journal – write any positive thoughts, things/people/events you’re thankful for each night
- Write Notes to People – Thank you notes, thinking of you notes, any positive notes; studies show just the act of writing them increases our positive vibes;
- Pray/Meditate – make time to connect to your higher power. Someone once shared the idea with me that praying is us talking/asking for guidance and meditating is us listening to guidance. That analogy has helped me quiet my mind during meditation
- because, you know, I don’t want to be rude!