Cultivating Gratitude

Cultivating Gratitude

During the holiday season it can be easy to get caught up in the busyness of gift buying and parties surrounding Thanksgiving and Christmas. We often let the stress of large crowds in shopping malls and parking lots affect our overall happiness. We lose sight of how this time of year is actually about being grateful for not only what we have but the people in our lives.

In an article written on University of Massachusetts Dartmouth website, they reviewed the relationship that gratitude has on our overall health. New research conducted by Wendy Berry Mendes from the University of California, San Francisco showed that “people with high levels of gratitude show lower resting blood pressure and are less reactive to stressful events.” Another study conducted by Martin Seligman, Robert Emmons, and Michael McCullough showed a link between gratitude to health and mental well-being including higher levels of alertness, determination, energy, sleep quality, and lower levels of depression and stress. All the researches stated that gratitude was something that needed to be cultivated.

If you’re looking for simple ways to cultivate gratitude in your life, try our suggestions below.

Keep a gratitude journal. A study conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California Davis and Mike McCullough at the University of Miami showed that after 10 weeks, participants that kept a journal of 5 things they were grateful for felt 25% happier. They also reported fewer health complaints, exercised an average of 1.5 hours more and felt better about their lives as a whole.

Practice Gratitude in your relationships. When you express your appreciation or gratitude to someone for what they’ve done for you, you let that person know their actions don’t go unnoticed. It could be something small like your spouse unloading the dishwasher, your kids giving you a hug or a friend making you dinner. By acknowledging and appreciating our loved ones, we are reinforcing seeing the positive in others as well as ourselves. This reminds us to be grateful for what we have in life.

Pay It Forward. During the holiday season, many people choose to volunteer at a soup kitchen, collect toys for the Toys for Tots program, or donate to their local Food Bank. Paying it forward doesn’t have to be limited to this time of year. Paying it forward can be practiced all year round in a variety of ways. It may mean dropping a handwritten thank you note, bringing a meal to a sick friend, or helping an elderly neighbor with yard work. It’s important to remember that when we practice giving selflessly to others we are helping others and reinforcing gratefulness in our own lives.

For more resources on how to cultivate gratefulness, click on the links below.


Popular Posts