The Health Benefits of Gratitude
What is gratitude? Being grateful for what we have got? Giving thanks to others for something they have given us; be it material or not? Why bother? The cynical would say because if we don't say thank we will soon lose our friends and any help people give willingly so it is worth the effort for the payback. Is that the only benefit?
It is true that good manners endear us to our fellow human beings. However gratitude has a much more beneficial effect on us.
Saying Thank You
There are obvious times when we say thank you. We are taught as young children to be polite and show good manners; when given a gift, when someone helps out unexpectedly, after being invited to a party. As adults we automatically tend to encourage this socially acceptable behaviour from very young children as soon as they start learning to hand things back and forth between themselves and us.
As we get older we start to take things for granted. Heading into our teenage years we learn about our ‘rights’, we develop cynicism. We start to lose the sense of wonder that we had as a young child that prompted the constant teeth gritting ‘why’ question that we pestered our parents with through all our waking hours.
As adults we learn a sense of a deeper sense of gratitude. When life gets hard and a good friend supports us emotionally we feel grateful. A good boss helping us achieve a promotion makes us appreciate their assistance.
When it stops
There are times in life when everything may seem to be going wrong. Your relationship is breaking down, your children are in trouble at school and you hate your job which hardly pays enough to cover the bills.
At times like these it may seem hard to be grateful for anything. I’d like to suggest that there is always something to be grateful for. In the same way that we can find problems in our lives we can find reasons to be thankful. Although it may seem corny the first obvious thing to consider is your health and physical state. Never mind how bad it is, how overweight you are , how old you are getting, or the fact you may need to wear glasses ,what is good about your health? Do you have access to your senses? Are you physically mobile? Do you have your mental faculties reasonably intact? Even if you have a problem with your health consider how much worse it could be, remember this is about changing your way of thinking so it may feel strange but persevere.
The next thing to consider is your environment. Do you have somewhere to live? Can you put food in your belly? Can you stay warm and dry? Do you have clothes to wear? All these are worth thinking about as there are many people, even in England, who struggle to achieve all these things. Look at the world around you – when did you last admire (if ever) the beauty in a tree’s bark or the reflection of streetlights in the rain? I could continue and talk about friendship, love and all the other stuff that you will have in one form or another but I think you probably get the picture.
Why Gratitude is Good for You
Gratitude is great as a holistic healer. It is the opposite of thinking that you have nothing and the world is against you. It is the constant internal battles that we wage that waste a lot of our energy. Think back to the issue of peace i mentioned last time; the feeling of peace when we are at one with ourselves and the world; when we can quiet the internal voices. When we are not at peace we are like a saucepan of boiling water, all agitated, bubbling and creating steam, eventually we will boil dry. Turn the heat off, calm down and we preserve our energy.
If we can learn to be grateful then we learn to appreciate life. We find joy in our day to day lives. Life becomes a positive experience. Happier people are healthier people both mentally and physically. Your immune system is boosted and you become less susceptible to disease. If you are calmer you can think more clearly and concentrate better.
How to Increase Your Gratitude
Try to spot when you are slipping into negative thinking patterns or feel that nothing is going well for you. Stop yourself in your tracks, maybe even physically. Use your senses to take in your environment, the sights, the smells and even the noise. Appreciate the gift of your senses, even if the environment isn’t ideal! No matter how low you are find one thing to be grateful for and hold onto it. Try to build this into a gratitude list. For example, “I am grateful for my hearing, I am grateful for music, I am grateful for <>...” When the negative thoughts try to creep back in start again, it doesn’t matter how small or trivial the item of focus is, sometimes the small things will make you realise how much you truly have!
If you find it hard keep practising as it is worth it.
Oh yes, thank you for reading!
Jacky Tustain is a Life Coach based in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. As well as one to one coaching she also runs workshops.
Having spent many years searching for a way to fulfil her desire to help people in the best way possible that matched her skills, experience and abilities she discovered Life Coaching.
If you would like to try Life Coaching Jacky is happy to offer a free, no obligation session so that you can see whether it is for you. There is no catch or hard sell, the results from life coaching sell themselves! Subsequent coaching session prices are available here. Any other questions? Contact Jacky for a quick response