The Healing Power of Gratitude
Have you ever wondered how gratitude can make any difference? The healing power of gratitude is something that can often be misunderstood and unappreciated.
Seeing news events where refugees are displaced, war torn zones of Iraq, African civil wars, and closer to home child abuse, domestic violence, shootings, drug addiction among many other issues that people face, it’s hard to know how to deal with all of these sad events knowing that we are limited with our capacity to stop the pain. There are many ways we can show our love and compassion. Shifting our own energy and looking for volunteer opportunities and donation opportunities can help various groups around the world. I know we can’t change the whole world or donate to every charity we come across. What I’m suggesting here is simply considering our own fortune, privilege and what we have can help us be more aware and consider finding a purpose to give and show compassion within our capacity.
When we think about just how much we do have, this can help us build on our compassion for others, and opens us to considering others perspectives and circumstances. This helps build on kindness and love for each other. I know each person’s circumstances are different, but it’s also about perspective. While some might have the latest iphone and sports car, another person can appreciate and be grateful for a second hand phone and a car that gets them from A to B. You don’t have to have a big house, expensive clothes and the latest stuff. Simply thinking of what you do have can help you feel more thankful for your own circumstances and build on compassion for others.
What is Gratitude
Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful for what you have in your life. Both physical, psychological and spiritual. Gratitude can be for circumstances rather than material things. It is a feeling that produces longer lasting positive emotions which has a positive effect on behaviour. According to the Harvard Medical School is,
‘a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power’.
How can it heal?
Healing here is in the sense of our mental health and well being. We are a whole person with physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual aspects. It is thought that our emotions can show themselves through our physical health too. According to the late Louise Hay when there is emotional disease, there is physical disease. One of her 100 quotes is, ‘my happy thoughts help create my healthy body’. Louise Hay believed that when we have negative emotions, they will show themselves in our physical body. So if you practice gratitude regularly, this can help heal your body as it can lift your emotions and help you practice self love and compassion.
Practicing gratitude can also increase feelings of love for those around us. This in turn increases our interactions with others, our energy and how we communicate. It also builds on our social connection with those around us.
Through gratitude or appreciation one can build on one’s spirituality and be grateful for breathing and being on this earth. It can be a rewarding feeling too.
It is based on giving of oneself in some way selflessly without expecting anything in return.
Either through positive thoughts or through positive interactions with others. This can heal social connections and nurture relationships. Being connected with others is essential to our general well being. Those without social connections struggle with their well being. As human beings we need to have social interactions of some kind. When we incorporate consciously building on increasing feelings of gratitude, we can build on our social connections with others, thus enhancing our personal well being.
Since gratitude can help boost one’s mood and create positive feelings, incorporating the practice of gratitude on a regular basis can be a strategy among various treatments to help support someone suffering from this complicated illness. Those who practice gratitude have also been shown to have a positive satisfaction to life.
What else can it do?
Gratitude can help to shift your mood. If you’ve ever found yourself feeling cranky or upset with something, it can be quite a challenge to shift those feelings. Especially if you feel hard done by, or that you’re not at fault for whatever the incident was. Instead, gratitude fosters positivity in those who practice it on a regular basis. Positivity has also been shown with improving one’s health through being able to make healthy choices.
I’ve even talked about this with my children as they often have lots of feelings including frustration. When we drive in the car, or sitting together on the lounge, it’s a good time for us to talk about and say at least one thing we each grateful for. This helps us bond with our children. It can also help them develop using gratitude as a strategy if they have a hard time with something they come across in their world.
Practicing gratitude can have a positive effect on our optimism.
Increased Happiness – Those who practice gratitude also feel happier within themselves. Research has also shown that this feeling lasts for a weeks.
Gratitude is often linked with manifesting something you want in life. This is based on physics where everything is energy. When one practices building on feelings of gratitude, one can manifest things they want in life. This might be in the area of improved friendships, attracting a partner, increasing wealth or improving health.
How to Practice Gratitude
Gratitude can be practiced in many different ways. Here’s a list of things that you can be grateful for just to get you started.
I am grateful for:-
- a roof over my head
- the career I have chosen
- the support I have available to me
- my health
- my family
- fabulous friends
These are just a few examples to get you thinking about the possibilities. I’m sure you can come up with numerous more, many and varied things that are relevant for you.
Journal: Some people find it helpful to write in a journal, either upon waking up, to start the new day or before going to bed. Both of these times help set up your mood for your day.
Before Sleep: What we think about before we go to sleep is very important as those thoughts get marinated for the next 8 hours. So practicing gratitude before going to sleep at night can help you have a restful, pleasant sleep and wake up in a positive mood.
Throughout the Day: On our way to work, driving, on the train or bus, we can practice and think about things we are grateful for.
When Feeling Stressed: When you notice your thoughts having a negative effect on your mood, it can help to think about something we are grateful for.
Guided Meditation: Some people like to practice gratitude with the help of a guided meditation. Here’s one of my favorite youtube people Jason Stephenson sharing his thoughts on gratitude.
I hope you have found some value in discovering the healing power of gratitude. What have you noticed when practicing gratitude yourself? Leave your comments below.