The Positive Effects of Expressing Gratitude

I can’t believe it is November and 2016 draws to a close in two months! It’s fair to say 2016 has been a tough and challenging year but as we start to reflect back on it all, I can’t help but look back with a sense of gratitude because for every single thing that has happened this year, it has made me delve into myself more and do some soul searching. Everything has had a lesson. Heck, 2016 has been one big lesson and amongst all the chaos and confusion at times, I emerge ever so grateful for everything that I have learnt and discovered. Overall, I have an enormous sense of gratitude but what exactly is gratitude?

ˈɡratɪtjuːd/

noun

the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

I feel gratitude is a very personal emotion and can vary greatly amongst us all. It is also a personal choice that we choose to make. There is always something to be grateful for, even in the darkest hour and we can chose to embrace and be grateful for the positive or we can chose to not accept to act in this way.

Once we embrace a daily practice of gratitude, it is my view that we attract more into our life and have more to be grateful for. But we live in a world where gratitude is often not expressed even amongst simple daily occurrences. Life can be busy and stressful, full of technology and gadgets. But it doesn’t matter where you are from, what your background is, how old you are: we could all do with being grateful more. We all need to express more thanks and appreciation.

There is so much scientific research on the benefits of gratitude.  A 2005 article in the journal of American Psychologist showed that expressing gratitude by writing down three things that went well every night for one week produces long term positive effects. Participants were 2% happier than previously. Not only that but their happiness kept on increasing month after month. At 6 months they were 9% happier than the start of the study. Even though the exercise was only for one week, participants enjoyed the benefits so much that they continued to express their gratitude. 

Interestingly, how you view gratitude can depend on where you come from. For example, Europeans experience the emotion of gratitude a lot more than Americans. Unfortunately only one in ten Americans feels gratitude on a regular basis. Not only this but only 20% view it as a useful emotion.

Other studies have shown that when we write down a daily gratitude list, participants experience less depression and stress. They also exercise more regularly and are also more inclined to help others.

Dr Emmons is a leading authority in gratitude and has written several books on gratitude.

His research shows that expressing gratitude can lead to a 25% increase in happiness. He has also found that people who express gratitude tend to be more creative, have a stronger immune system and bounce back from unfortunate/negative events quicker.

Paul Mills is a Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. He conducted studies looking at the effects of gratitude on cardiovascular health.  One of his major findings was that within 2 months participants who kept a journal most days documenting what they were grateful for, had less inflammation and improved heart rhythm compared to people who did not keep a journal.

One of the key things for allowing gratitude into our lives is to stop comparing ourselves to others. We are all on our own soul journey and we all have a unique path to walk in this time on planet earth.  I read a great quote the other day which I feel summed it up so beautifully:

“Don’t compare your back-of-stage to everyone else’s front-of-stage’

Oh my goodness, how true is this? We need to count our blessings in our own life. I have recently been taking a break from Facebook and it has been wonderfully nourishing for me. Social media is everyone’s highlight reel . Stop comparing. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’.  Just breath. Look inside and see what you do have and be grateful.

It is worth noting also that being grateful does not mean that everything is hunky dory in our lives and there are no problems or concerns. It means that we don’t focus on them. Instead we chose to focus on the blessings in our life. Isn’t that a great way to live? Don’t spend your life saying, ‘I’ll be happy when…………..’. Spend your life being happy now. Now is all we have.

I recently made this essential oil pure-fume on a reflective day when I felt an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I do. For more information on the essential oils that I use please click here

Next week we shall take a closer look at different ways to express gratitude.

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