Gratitude, Health and Relationships

This past week I have been flooded with things to be grateful for and I know that writing about it has increased my awareness. Four years ago, this past week, I had a knee replacement. The recovery has been so successful that I forget what it used to be like and neglect to pause in gratitude for the masterful physicians and healthcare people who contributed to where I am today.

I’ve noticed that I am much more diligent about writing down my gratitudes when I am struggling because it helps me to keep a positive focus. When I make it a daily habit to not only notice what I am grateful for but to record it things seem to be right with the world and life is good. I feel better inside and out.

This is part 2 in the 3-part series on Gratitude by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.

Start by cultivating gratitude for the little things. Click To Tweet

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In my previous post, I described the various benefits that cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude brings to our lives. But let’s explore this further — what is gratitude?

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., a professor of psychology and expert on gratitude, says that gratitude has two key components:

  1. An affirmation of goodness
    When you feel gratitude, you affirm that you live in a benevolent world.
  1. A recognition that the source of this goodness comes from outside of yourself
    You acknowledge that other people (or higher powers) provide you with “gifts” that improve your life in some way.

According to Emmons, gratitude is…

“a relationship-strengthening emotion, because it requires us to see how we have been supported and affirmed by other people.”

 

Gratitude and Health

One area of life that we often take for granted and forget about (sometimes until it is too late) is our health.

“We tend to take our health for granted until we’re suddenly in the throes of pain or a debilitating illness… If you have good health and all your mental faculties intact, you also have the prerequisite basics for doing something about the less satisfactory situations in your life.”
Dr. Joseph Mercola, physician and wellness expert.

 

How to Cultivate Gratitude

First, start by cultivating gratitude for the little things. This will foster a more deep-seated sense of happiness, contentment and well being. Like a muscle, your sense of gratitude can be strengthened with practice each time you express it, turning it into a habit.

You may want consider creating a gratitude journal to record what is right with your world and what you are grateful for each day — this is an excellent practice. You do not have to make a big deal out of this or spend a lot of time on it, just capture the essence of what you are thankful for in your day. It can be as simple as being grateful for a gorgeous fall day or for the time you spent with a favorite person. There are now a number of digital apps that allow you to journal from anywhere at any time.

In his Beginner’s Guide to Digital Journaling, Bakari Chavanu lists his four favorite apps, including Penzu, which allows you to express your most private thoughts by providing password protection for both your journal and individual entries.

What habit or practice do you have that reminds you to pay attention to what is right in your world and to cultivate an attitude of gratitude? Do you have a favorite app that you use to track what you are thankful for? I would love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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