The Potent Healing Power of Thankfulness, Appreciation, and Gratitude

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Thank You card with fall leavesIf you’re low on energy and need a boost, I have a tip for you.  Gratitude has been shown to balance your biochemistry in profound ways, leading to improved immune system, hormone balance and energy.

So how does it work?

Not only do thankfulness and appreciation feel good to give and receive, studies conducted by the Institute of Heartmath confirm that appreciation induces a change in your heart rhythms that synchronize your heart and brain, thus facilitating your mental and intuitive faculties and inducing the release of nourishing bio-chemicals that enhance your immune system, and trigger regenerative hormone changes. Therefore, appreciation is an important part of living a healthy and vibrant life, free of chronic fatigue and hormone imbalance.

Because you’re less stressed-out when you’re in a state of appreciation, you allow your hormones to come into balance and become more resilient against fatigue and aging.

The Heart-Math Institute says, “The intelligence of the heart is that solid, clear awareness we experience when our emotions, mind and body are in sync.”

Applying the art of appreciation can take only seconds and yields hours of powerful healing benefits.

In the US there is a whole holiday devoted to appreciation.  It’s called Thanksgiving!  The only problem is, we’ve come to think of it as a day of feasting and indulging in rich foods to the point of exhaustion.

Gratitude rituals ought to play a prominent role in the celebration of Thanksgiving.  Imagine if instead of sitting down at the table and beginning the meal by filling your plate, you could connect with your loved ones over a gratitude ritual.

I imagine sitting down to the beautifully set table holding hands to form a circle and taking turns sharing a few things we are most grateful for.  In my Thanksgiving circle we’d each light a candle when our turn came, and take a half a minute to focus on breathing and appreciation.  We’d connect gazes with each other and spread the love!

Pinch me – is this real?

Unfortunately not.  Generally we spend Thanksgiving at the homes of relatives and these traditions have not been established.

Appreciation: An immediate mood booster and natural “high”

In my ideal world, the food we’d share would be fresh, whole and brimming with nutrition, rather than processed and filled with flour, sugar and unhealthy oils.

Woman in SunsetI will do my ritual in my own mind.  This year, I commit to connecting with each person at the table with a gaze, a smile and a word of appreciation spoken silently.

I will joyfully consume my fresh living foods, a plethora of vegetables bursting with flavor from my omega 3 rich sauces and herbs.  I am thankful for the gift of travel, that allows me to connect with family near and far.  I will remember my parents with love and gratitude for the gift of life.  And I will express appreciation for my readers, my clients and my team for allowing me to guide and lead them.

Now for the science: Appreciation is a smart thing to do for your health

And the thing about appreciation and its effect on health is that it’s not just a spiritual expression but it’s based in science. It’s the perfect blend of science and natural wisdom.  And it’s the best deal of all when it comes to health care —it’s free.  You can choose to express it any time you want a boost in energy and to improve bodily function.

In fact, one study conducted by the institute of Heartmath compared heart rate, mood and salivary Secretory IgA (S-IgA), an immune marker, in thirty individuals before and after experiencing care and appreciation or anger and frustration. Positive emotions produced a significant increase in S-IgA levels. Examining the effects over a six hour period they observed that anger, in contrast to care, produced a significant inhibition of S-IgA from one to five hours after the emotional experience.

Results indicate that self-induction of positive emotional states, as in my version of a Heart Math technique called Quick Coherence that I call a Mini Vacation, is highly effective at stimulating S-IgA levels and minimizing the immuno-suppressive effects of negative emotions.

It pretty much always boils down to one fact. It’s a matter of choice. You absolutely CAN choose to change your state quickly, regardless of your situation.

So the next time a well-intentioned family member gives you a hard time, go to the beach.  You can transport yourself in a matter of seconds and reap the benefits of actually being there.

As soon as you begin to make appreciation a way of life, you’ll notice very quickly when your thoughts or emotions have fallen out of that state. As soon as you notice it, you are reminded to focus your thoughts and emotions on appreciation and restore your system to balance.

It helps to remind yourself to practice appreciation at regular intervals each day. Appreciation comes naturally when you feel love for what we’re doing, or real gratitude toward someone or something.

Keep in mind that it’s important to actually  feel appreciation, not just think about it.

What are you most thankful forBegin to practice now. Try this exercise:

Stop what you’re doing and take a few deep breaths. Look around for things you appreciate. It could be the sunlight streaming into your room, or a flower growing outside. Maybe you have a pet or child close by to appreciate, or a photo on the wall that reminds you of a special vacation or family gathering.

It’s generally not difficult to find things to appreciate. When all else fails, appreciate the roof over your head, the walls that protect you from the elements, flushing toilets and running water. Not everyone has the benefit of these special gifts that we’ve come to take for granted.

And before you sit down to eat your meals, stop and breathe and take the time to appreciate the food, the company and your wondrous body that can turn food into body cells and organs. Its truly a miracle to appreciate (especially when you sometimes give it some pretty challenging raw materials to work with)! 🙂

I'll show you how easy and fun this is to do, right here and now!

As I reflect upon what I am personally most grateful for five things come to mind right away.  And when I look back over time to when I started my appreciation journal, these are very similar to what they were 3 years ago.

1- I am grateful that I get to experience the sheer joy of being in a state of vibrant health day after day and year after year.  I love that the choice has become natural to me, and that negative situations regularly move me to positive emotions as I “go to the beach”  and shift my internal experience.

2- I appreciate the men in my life, Scott, my husband of almost 29 years, my college son Eric whom I see so infrequently that I cherish every moment, my  sports loving skateboarding cuddly 15 year old,  Kevin, who stll asks me to cuddle with him at night!  What a gift!

3- I appreciate my Vitamix that makes it easy to eat lots of nourishing greens, and easy daily access to amazingly nourishing and delicious food that fuels and powers me to take on my mission to change the face of health care in this world.

4- I appreciate airplanes that allow me to travel to see loved ones

5- I appreciate computers, the internet and online tools that allow me to teach hundreds of people at a time without leaving my home.

Wow. And that's just the tip of the iceberg–I could go on and on from there.

What a gift to have  holiday that encourages appreciation!

I wish you and your loved ones a safe and healthy holiday.


With Love, health and gratitude,


Comment below about what YOU plan to eat on Thanksgiving, or what appreciation rituals you do that uplift you.  Share the recipe if you choose.

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