by Deb Brothers-Klezmer, BSN, RN-BC, CRRN, NCTMB & Wendy Midgley, MEd, RD, CDE
“GRATITUDE is one of the sweetest shortcuts to finding peace of mind and happiness inside. No matter what is going on outside of us, there is always something we could be grateful for.” –Barry Neil Kaufman–
This season of the year is often described as a time of Love and Light. It also encompasses matters of the heart and the quality of GRATITUDE.
In this BLOG, we will focus on the POWER of GRATITUDE and THE HEART. We will contemplate how the state of gratitude affects our overall health, well-being, and degree of connectedness to all created life.
GRATITUDE includes many things. There are numerous words and phrases associated with Gratitude, for example: Thankfulness, Thank You, Appreciation, Gratefulness, Charity, a Grateful Heart, “I am blessed”, “My heart is full.” When someone is feeling deeply grateful and touched it is common to see him/her put a hand on the heart and say: “Thank you so much, I really appreciate this.”
In the spiritual realm, GRATITUDE is considered a high vibrational state or frequency. It is uplifting. FEELING grateful uplifts not only ourselves but all of those around us. Someone who is in a state of gratitude can transform the entire feeling in a room–from the negative to positive!
***In gratitude, one sees and experiences life differently….Low tides become high tides, The glass becomes half full OR FULL (vs half empty), Life looks brighter.***
There is an actual SCIENCE of GRATITUDE. As it turns out, counting blessings has real health benefits. Grateful people “feel more alert, alive, interested, and enthusiastic, and have a greater sense of well-being. They also feel more connected to others.” University of CA-Davis, Psychology Professor Robert Emmons, author of books on the science of gratitude wrote: “Gratitude also serves as a STRESS BUFFER. Grateful people are less likely to experience envy, anger, resentment, regret, and other unpleasant states that produce stress.”
Studies by both Emmons and Lyubornisky (Psychology Professor at University of CA-Riverside) show that:
- People with high blood pressure not only lower their blood pressure, but also feel less hostile. They are more likely to quit smoking and lose weight if they practice gratitude. They are more likely to exercise more regularly.
- People who care for relatives with Alzheimer’s disease “feel less stress and depression when they keep daily gratitude journals, listing positive things in their lives.”
- Those who stay in gratitude through life “appear to have lower risks of several disorders such as depression, phobias, bulimia, and alcoholism.”*
Both ancient teachings and modern medical research agree: one of the quickest, most effective routes to harmony is to foster gratitude and appreciation. The moment you shift from a mind state of negativity or judgment to one of appreciation and gratitude, there are immediate effects to your well-being:
- Brain function becomes more balanced, harmonious and supple.
- The heart begins to pump in a much more coherent and harmonious rhythm.
- Biochemical changes trigger a host of healthful responses through your body.
The Practice of GRATITUDE provides an antidote for two root sufferings that permeate the human experience: (1) a feeling of “insufficiency” (not having enough or not being enough) and (2) staying incessantly busy “to get more” or “be more” in an attempt to fill inner feelings of discontent and lack. We often seek external things, “more stuff,” and experiences to fill what is really a deep inner need. We end up on a merry-go-round of constant seeking and doing; but not being fulfilled or satisfied.
The Practice of Gratitude reverses this cycle and instantly puts us in touch with the gifts and blessings already present in our lives.
NOTE: When we start practicing gratitude on a regular basis, our lives can transform and expand in ways we never dreamed of. GRATITUDE softens our hearts and SHIFTS us. “The most efficient and simple way to transform your life is to cultivate appreciation.”**
**from Ebook: Awakening to Gratitude by K. Elaine Jackson
GRATITUDE PRACTICE TIPS:
- Begin putting gratitude in your life by keeping a daily gratitude journal or keep a piece of paper in a place that everyone in your house can write on. Emmons recommends doing a 21 day gratitude intervention….and see one’s life transform.
- Find something to be grateful for each day—even if you are experiencing “a high stress day” (OR, especially if experiencing “a high stress day”!!! ) There is always 1 small thing for which we can express thanks, or feel appreciation. It can be as simple as: “I am grateful for the warmth of this coffee mug in my hands–this cold winter day.”
- Write a gratitude letter to someone who made a big difference in your life, and hand-deliver it, if possible. A boost in happiness can happen for both parties that can last for weeks.
“At times our own Light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” –Albert Schweitzer–
- Send a wave of gratitude to someone in conflict with you. Perhaps there is a lesson you are learning from the conflict. You may transform your relationship in offering sincere gratitude towards it.
- If you are in the midst of intense personal issues or acute and/or chronic crisis situations—finding something to feel grateful for will make it easier for you to cope and heal. Feeling even a small amount of gratitude will SHIFT you towards more peace, or “a lightened load.”
NOTE: Darren Weissman, chiropractor and author of The Power of Infinite Love and Gratitude knows how challenging it can be to access gratitude when life seems to be falling apart. But he believes that we: “speed up healing by finding small things to be grateful for that birthed from a negative experience. Gratitude is a mighty messenger for change.”
Spend several minutes doing mindful breathing exercises and FEEL gratitude. STEPS:
- Bring to mind someone or something that you are deeply grateful for.
- As you breathe in, take this person to heart.
- Breathing out, let your heartfelt gratitude shine brightly and deeply to and through whatever and whomever you are deeply grateful for.
Continue as long as you like, letting each breath take to heart a loved one, a friend, someone who is teaching you patience or forgiveness, or an experience. Whoever or whatever comes to mind–gather them into your heart, one at a time or all together. Taking these many gifts to heart, complete and affirm the circle of gratitude, assuring that the stream of blessings in your life and in the Universe will be unbroken.***
***from Huffington Post: 7/1/2011 article: “Understanding the Science of Gratitude” by Joel and Michelle Levey, founds of WisdomAtWork.com. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joel-michelle-levey/understanding-gratitude_b_888208.html
- Practice feeling GRATITUDE 15 minutes each day to reap the following benefits: increased natural antibodies to illness, faster healing, increased mental focus, and overall strengthening. (from Gratitude research by Stephen Post, PhD)
Examples of DAILY GRATITUDES (say out loud yourself, or write in your journal). They can be small–or major–gratitudes!
- I am grateful for Life and all that it has to offer.
- I am grateful for work I enjoy doing.
- I am grateful for a paycheck, even though I don’t like my current job. It is my vision that a better job is coming my way. Meanwhile, I am grateful for this pay-check.
- I am grateful for my family, friends, co-workers.
- I am grateful for this food on the table.
- I am grateful for having more energy today.
- I am grateful for the scent of yummy food cooking.
- I am grateful for the feeling of warm water on my back in the shower.
- I am grateful I am able to walk outside and enjoy Nature.
- I am grateful that I have “a good hair day” today!
- I am grateful to have known this wonderful person who has recently passed away.
- I am grateful for the beautiful new baby born into our family.
What am I grateful for? Make a list of what comes to mind, even if something very simple: ______________________________________________
We offer this PRAYER of GRATITUDE:
Dearest Universe (or Source, or however you address a higher source in your life): This holiday season, please help me remember everything I am grateful for. Please heal and clear my thoughts of lack, worry, and fear. Remind me to focus on the many blessings in my life: my health, my loving relationships, food on my table, the money I do have, and most importantly, help me share my feelings (or words) of gratitude and love with my family, friends, co-workers, and even strangers who are kind to me. Thank You, Universe, for your unconditional love and support.
“During this time of great change–may we continue to be inspired by the healing power of Gratitude. Life’s journey is here to awaken our great fortune through buried treasures of self-love, compassion, forgiveness and DEEP GRATITUDE.”
Our Wish is that you experience the great power of deep gratitude on a daily basis in all aspects of your lives.
The Wellness Shifter Ladies!!!
Deb and Wendy
- Emmons, Robert A, PhD. 3 books: Words of Gratitude Mind Body and Soul. and Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. and The Psychology of Gratitude
- Jackson, K. Elaine. Awakening to Gratitude (E-book)
- Weissman, Darren, chiropractor. Book: The Power of Infinite Love and Gratitude
- Gratitude organizations: www.gratefulness.org; www.gogratitude.com; www.IAmThankful.com; www.gratitudepower.net