Updated: Oct 5
When we make gratitude a practice it provides magical and transformational healing in our lives. Studies have proven that gratitude may have the biggest impact on improving quality of life.
The holidays are a time when we’re supposed to feel grateful, right? But what happens when you don’t feel so grateful? Perhaps you have to alter your holiday plans due to various reasons and may not see loved ones. Perhaps it is just a challenging time and you are feeling lost, overwhelmed or down at this time of year.
Research suggests that one aspect of the Thanksgiving season can actually lift the spirits, and it's built right into the holiday — being grateful.
Many of us at Thanksgiving parrot of the basics, “I have food on my plate and a roof over my head."
What if pausing to truly practice gratitude were a tool that might actually help improve your life every day?
“We saw significant reductions in depression (from study participants practicing gratitude)." — Prof. Paul Mills
The Benefits of Expressing Gratitude
Expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude can decrease depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain and risk of disease.
If a pill that could do this, everyone would be taking it. Your brain is designed to problem-solve rather than appreciate. You often must override this design to reap the benefits of gratitude.
Behavior changes biology. Positive gestures benefit you by releasing oxytocin, a hormone that helps connect people. Some people call it the love hormone.
You'll also benefit the person on the other end of the gesture. After all, who doesn't like to be thanked for their efforts or just for being who they are?
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, being grateful also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
Our Thoughts And Feelings Have Frequency
Have you ever heard the phrase, “thoughts are things?” This is because our thoughts create emotions that vibrate at a particular frequency. Emotions are literally ENERGY IN MOTION. Therefore, your emotions vibrate and put out a frequency just like everything else in the world.
Gratitude vibrates at 540 MHz. Being grateful falls on the same level as joy— it is one of the highest vibrational frequencies you can be at. It's right up there with love and peace. Sounds like a pretty nice place to be huh? The more time you can spend in gratitude and love, the more your body's frequency raises and the healthier your body becomes.
So what does vibrating at the frequency of gratitude actually do? Based on the law of attraction, like frequencies are drawn together. Therefore, the more you can get into the feeling of gratitude about something that you want, the more you draw it toward you.
Ways To Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.
Gratitude should be practiced daily — just as you'd take that magic pill if it existed.
Try starting your day by thinking of something or someone you are grateful for. As you wake take a moment to feel grateful for sunshine, or rain or bird song or a really good cup of coffee. It could be just a few more moments of quiet. Or a text that makes your smile. At 1st it may feel forced but if you keep practicing it will become second nature to feel grateful for something to start each day.
Keep a gratitude journal. Set aside some time during your day, perhaps while attempting to relax your mind before sleep. Think back on your day and write down the things that went right. Maybe your spouse took care of a household repair, you heard your favorite song on the radio or you saw a double rainbow. Try writing about the many blessings you may have taken for granted, such as having clean water or having certain abilities.
If you are not a writer just taking time to reflect on your day and think of the things you are grateful for is a wonderful practice that I have found turns around even the most challenging day.
Express your appreciation to people around you. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you card, text or email, expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person's impact on your life. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
That being said I want to express my heartfelt appreciation to my dear friends Halima and Mike for welcoming me into their beautiful home and taking me on wonderful week of adventures exploring the west coast.
Our lives are full of reasons to feel thankful. Sometimes we just need to remember to notice them.
The style of yoga and meditation that I practice and share help cultivate gratitude. At the end of every class I invite you to become aware of how you are feeling now, or your state of being. Then I invite you to appreciate yourself for carving out this time to take good care of you. You can join me for live classes in studio or online via zoom.