Medical Benefits of Gratitude
Did you know that there are actually health benefits to having a grateful attitude? More and more research is being done on the therapeutic aspect of positive attitudes and emotions. Joy, Gratitude, Appreciation, Humor all enrich your life and help boost your immune system.
Grateful people are those who are aware that gratitude and enjoyment of life is a permanent virtue rather than a temporary state of mind. Research has shown that grateful people take better care of themselves and engage in more protective health behaviors like regular exercise, a healthy diet, regular physical examinations.
We all know that stress can make us sick. It has been linked to several leading causes of death, including heart decease and cancer. Gratitude, it turns out, can help us better manage stress. Gratitude research is beginning to suggest that feelings of thankfulness have tremendous positive value in helping people cope with daily problems, especially stress.
During times of stress, pain, trauma and drama our awareness gets absorbed into these energies and we lose perspective on the fullness of life. Once we get in the habit of negative thinking we forget that it is okay to enjoy things and find pleasure in life. If you are in pain and are suffering, especially if it is long term, it is even more important to find what gives you joy and pleasure, to seek out the positive in life.
Energy flows where Attention goes. – Old Hawaiian Huna proverb
What do you Focus On?
This Huna proverb shows that even the ancient cultures were aware that our focus directs our energy. When you focus on the fearful, painful, dramatic aspects of an event, those energies will increase. But if you choose to focus on the optimistic positive aspect those energies will increase. The most important aspect of that quote is that you have a choice of what you are focusing on. You can also choose how you want to feel about something. No one can make you put your attention where you do not want it. So why not start to choose to focus on the more positive aspects of life? See what happens!
This is not an easy task. There are many habits of relationship that are based on complaining about our pain and suffering. It seems like my family likes to compete for the one who is suffering the most. It is as if our pain/illness makes us important and more deserving of attention. My sisters look at me strange when I start talking about the good in my life. So you may need to risk some strange looks and being perceived as weak or unimportant. Yet all the benefits of being more joyful, more gracious are worth it.
Choose an Attitude of Gratitude
There is nothing sweeter than feeling grateful while something is happening in the real time. Remember getting a cold drink of water when you are really thirsty? Remember how grateful you felt and how that gratitude increased your pleasure and enjoyment of the drink. This type of appreciation and gratitude is the key to enjoying life. How much are you enjoying the simplest things in life? Your food, your water, your companions, your home? Take time to really appreciate them and let them know how important they are to you. Try the simple challenge posed below. It is an exercise in extending the joy and pleasure in your life. When you try it notice what draws your awareness out of moment of joy. These impulses/thoughts are key to understanding the stressors in your life.
This is an advanced practice, to be grateful and joyful all the time no matter what you are doing or what is going on around you. So for the time being just try to extend your joy.