Suzanne Marlatt Stewart
For many of us, we look for the quick fix when it comes to our health—a magic pill that will increase our energy levels, help us sleep better, boost our immune system, and even decrease disease. Unfortunately, no such pill exists. However, a daily practice of gratitude (counting your blessings) just may be the answer.
The Gratitude Project, a book edited by the research team of Jeremy Adam Smith, Kira Newman, Jason Marsh, and Dacher Keitner suggests that gratitude can rewire our brains. Gratitude is very powerful; it has been proven to increase our well-being in many ways. A multiyear study between the Greater Good Science Center and Robert Emmons Ph.D. of the University of California, The Gratitude Project explored how gratitude affects our brains. Research has shown that gratitude is associated with an enhanced sense of personal well-being. It is a readiness to show appreciation and return kindness. Feeling grateful releases powerful neurotransmitters called dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin, which impact our brains. With every experience, our brains have the ability to grow stronger and we have the ability to frame the way we feel about any given experience. Dr. Emmons, author of The Little Book of Gratitude, states, “gratitude is good medicine.” Clinical trials have shown that gratitude can have a dramatic and lasting effect on our personal life. It can lower blood pressure and improve our immune system. People who are grateful engage in more exercise, have healthier diets, and are less likely to abuse alcohol or medications and not smoke.
Following are some simple ways to practice gratitude:
1. What did your body do for you today?
Take a minute and thank your body for how well it functions. We take for granted breathing, walking, using our arms and hands for so many functions. Thank yourself for all the ways you keep your body safe and healthy.
2. What did you do you really enjoyed today?
Find a quiet time to take a moment to reflect, think back to a particular awesome experience that brought you joy.
3. Whom do you look forward to connecting with?
Who sets your heart on fire, supports you no matter what, or makes you laugh? Value these people, as connections to others is very important for our well-being.
Every day we are given 24 hours, be thankful for the gift of time. One of my favorite blessings reminds me to live in gratitude.
Yesterday is history
Tomorrow is a mystery
But today is a gift…
It’s called the present.
May you have many precious moments of love, peace, and happiness.
Enjoy your journey each step of the way.
Rev. Suzanne, a resident of SaddleBrooke, is an independent writer and speaker. She was ordained non denominational in 1988, representing all faiths, and her focus is inclusive. Contact her at [email protected]