Giving the Gift of Gratitude
You might wonder how I can write an entire blog about giving someone the “gift of gratitude”. What does that even mean?
I’m talking about two things, actually.
First, YOU really can give someone else the gift of gratitude or appreciation this holiday season.
Secondly, you can help someone else get started in developing a new habit of feeling more gratitude each day.
Both of these can improve your health and the recipient’s health! I’ll talk about both of these in this blog.
What is gratitude, anyways?
So what exactly IS gratitude?
Gratitude is the emotional feeling of appreciation you get over something that is valuable and meaningful to you.
People feel gratitude about many things. You can feel gratitude for the past, retrieving positive memories and being thankful for past blessings; the present, counting your blessings no matter how many negatives may also be present; and the future, maintaining an optimistic attitude.
Gratitude helps you refocus on what you have instead of what you lack.
Feeling gratitude is associated with many positive health benefits.
Let me just start by saying that this is not crazy lala stuff! There is a lot of science behind the health benefits of gratitude.
Research has shown that positive emotions, such as those you feel when you focus on appreciation, improve your health!
Gratitude has been shown to affect your biochemistry in profound and positive ways, leading to improved hormone balance, an improved immune system, more energy, and increased cognitive function. It may help you improve your blood sugar and address insulin resistance issues! Gratitude may even help you sleep better.
Give someone else the gift of gratitude
How many times have you thanked someone for just being in your life at any given moment, just because you FELT appreciative in some way, no matter how small?
How many times have you thanked a bank clerk, the mail carrier, a receptionist, or grocery store clerk?
I mean, how many times have you FELT appreciative of someone else, yet said nothing?
Just think how often you don’t get the thanks you deserve, or, even worse – perhaps you get the opposite,. Perhaps someone having a bad day takes it out on you.
Imagine if you told the clerk that you appreciate that they put the tomatoes at the top of the bag, and were gentle with the breakables. Or maybe you just appreciated the way they asked about YOUR day? Didn’t THAT make you feel nice? I feel happy just reflecting on such an experience!
When was the last time you sent a letter to your aunt who always sent you birthday cards when you were little? Or said thank you to the friend who always answers the phone when you need a shoulder to cry on?
Go ahead. When you feel appreciative, say something! Write a letter. Express that gratitude. It will make you feel better, and will also brighten up someone else’s day. It will actually give you both a little “boost” of energy, according to research that has been done.
Give someone else the gift of a new habit of feeling gratitude each day
I am a big fan of the practice of maintaining a daily gratitude journal. A gratitude journal makes a wonderful gift for someone you care about.
You can purchase a journal. Better yet, tap into your creative side and make one using a binder and paper. The prettier or more personalized it is to the recipient, the more likely they will be to use it. Start the journal for them by expressing a day’s worth of your own appreciation for them. It might look something like this:
- I am thankful for living in such a beautiful place, and in particular, that I live close enough to you so we can see each other often.
- I am thankful we are both healthy, and that our families are healthy, too.
- I am thankful we both love the work we do, and that we live comfortable lives.
- I am thankful for the beautiful flowers you grow in your garden.
- And so on.
Oh, and include a few helpful instructions!
Here are some ideas you can share with them that will help them get in the journal-writing habit:
- Pick a time each day to write in your journal and make that a cherished habit. Be consistent about that time. Spend just 5-10 minutes or so. Reflect on what you are thankful for that day or the previous day. Make sure the recipient understands that this will improve their health and energy if they stick with it!
- Specifics are best. Rather than writing, “I am thankful for friends”, reflect on why you appreciate a particular friend on that particular day. Be as descriptive as possible, using all your senses.
- There are always things to be thankful for. Even on the gloomiest days, there is fresh air, nature, your health, friendships, your spiritual life, etc.
- Remember, you can be thankful for the present, past, or future.
Ask them to reflect on how they feel after they finish writing.
I know that after I write in my gratitude journal, my inner radiance soars! The emotional states these journal thoughts evoke are invigorating.
So how does feeling gratitude improve your health and energy?
It feels good to be thanked, doesn't it? Doesn’t it also feel good to be the appreciative party? YES!
When feeling gratitude, you are acknowledging that there is goodness in your life! Plus, recognizing the source of goodness around you will make you feel more connected – to other people, to a higher power, to nature, or to whatever you desire to be close to.
Also, studies confirm that gratitude not only makes you feel good and more connected, it's also good for your health in other ways.
Studies done by the Institute of HeartMath™ have shown that appreciation actually induces a change in your heart rhythms, which results in the release of helpful immunity building biochemicals.
You'll lower your stress when you're in a state of appreciation, which helps balance your hormones, including insulin, and the immune system. Learn about other ways to reduce stress and about my stress-reducing “mini-vacations” as well.
As stress is lowered, so is cortisol, which is your stress hormone. Being thankful has an effect on other mood neurotransmitters beyond cortisol, as well as your hormones.
According to Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, who, as the head of the division of biologic psychology at Duke University Medical Center, summed up “being thankful” as a method that has shown measurable positive effects on multiple body and brain systems.
Dr. Doraiswamy said that gratitude's health effects are, “Those include mood neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine), reproductive hormones (testosterone), social bonding hormones (oxytocin), cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine), inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines), stress hormones (cortisol), cardiac and EEG rhythms, blood pressure, and blood sugar.” This is powerful. So many of my clients come to me with blood sugar and insulin resistance problems.
Being grateful can help with digestion and overall gut health, which is a reason I always say to take a moment before eating and reflect on what you have to be grateful for, even if you simply focus on being grateful for that particular meal.
Your resilience may improve as well. A study in the 2003 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that being thankful increased resilience. The study also found that gratitude was a major contributor to people showing the greatest resilience following the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
It can also help your sleep! According to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, just spending 15 minutes a day jotting down what you feel grateful about before bed may make you sleep better and longer. Here are some other tips for improving your sleep. LINK
Give the Gift of Gratitude – this holiday season and beyond!
Live in the “attitude of gratitude” each and every day. Read more about gratitude and how to incorporate it into your life here. You may have to specifically remind yourself and think about it at first, but as it becomes more of a habit and way of approaching your life, it will come naturally.
Not only will living an attitude of gratitude likely make you a happier individual, but you will reap many health benefits. Live a life with reduced stress, happier hormones, and an improved immune system. Use gratitude as one lifestyle strategy in tackling your blood sugar or insulin resistance issues as well.
Remember, you always have a choice about how to move through your days. You can focus on negative thoughts and obstacles – the things you don’t have or didn’t achieve. Or you can focus on the blessings in your life. I choose to focus on my blessings. What about you?
Take action to include gratitude in every moment. Consider purchasing a gratitude journal and trying that out, for yourself or as a gift. They are wonderful!
COMMENT BELOW: Do you use a gratitude journal? If so, share how it has helped you and advice to others about committing to this important new health habit!
You can also give yourself an energy boost by appreciating how your body will feel as you go through The Sweet Spot Solution program and balance your blood sugar. I include the Transforming Stress System and the Inspired Health Vision System in the program. There are many ways we teach you to practice that attitude of gratitude through this course. This mindset will help you to better manage your blood sugar, as well as lower your stress and increase your energy, which is something else I'm sure you'll appreciate it.