You may have read about how some of the studies that show gratitude, particularly meditating on feelings of gratitude, can shift the brain’s function toward a healthier mindset. Concentrating on what we are grateful for helps us to overcome sad and anxious feelings, and to stop ruminating on negative thoughts about past events. It can also release us from worrying so much about the future. So how can you start feeling more gratitude?
Researchers say gratitude is more complex and experienced differently than simple happiness. While happiness occurs in the brain’s immediate reward systems, gratitude is believed to also involve structures in the brain associated with higher-order thinking and reasoning.
Think of gratitude as a very powerful positive energy that dispels negative thinking and emotional baggage, just as light dispels darkness. Imagine how your life would be if you filled yourself with thoughts of love and gratitude on a continual basis. Imagine how people would be drawn to you. Imagine what your life could be like. Perhaps this is how our lives are actually intended to be!
What is Gratitude? And Why is an Attitude of Gratitude so Important?
We usually think of gratitude as an expression of thankfulness for abundant living. When we think about how blessed we are, or when someone does something for us, we often express gratitude by saying thank you. The problem is that the feeling is usually fleeting. We say “thank you” and move on. That doesn’t mean we don’t really feel that appreciation, it just means we’re human.
Maybe it’s time we start thinking of gratitude as the distinct emotion it can be — one that we can definitely feel more consistently. After all, if you were to make a positive emotions list, wouldn’t gratitude be near the top? When you’re feeling down, a moment of gratitude could raise your spirits. But the more gratitude we feel daily, under any situation, the more benefits we can receive.
A Google search for “what is gratitude” reveals this definition: “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Try intending to make gratitude less of a passing “thanks” and more of a daily quality…a part of who you are.
Recognize Your Abundant Life Every Day
Leading gratitude researcher Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. argues that gratitude has two main parts. “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received.” He explains the second part of gratitude as more social. “We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves… We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers… gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.” Emmons also writes, “I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
“An affirmation of goodness.” How’s that for positivity? If you have family, good friends, a home, meaningful work, and laughter in your life, you have goodness. You are living an abundant life in some way or another. Making gratitude your attitude can turn your thoughts away from problems and negativity, toward happier, higher thoughts that raise your emotional energy.
Benefits of Gratitude for Mental Wellness
According to Emmons, feeling gratitude can help reduce a myriad of negative emotions, such as resentment, anger, and frustration. Emmons has completed a number of studies on gratitude and its ability to enhance feelings of well-being. These studies support his theory that gratitude can be effective at reducing or fighting depression and boosting happiness.
Other studies have shown that people who regularly practice being grateful do better in other areas that imply mental and emotional health, such as self-esteem. Gratitude has been shown to reduce stress and bolster feelings of optimism and tranquility.
In a scientific study, gratitude has also been linked to potential increases in neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is that “feel good” neurotransmitter that helps us feel pleasure and anticipation. Serotonin is believed to affect our moods, and some researchers believe lower levels of it may be linked to depression — so it looks like the more, the better!
Benefits of Gratitude for Physical Health
Gratitude has been linked to health benefits such as improved sleep, reduced fatigue, and less cellular inflammation. Gratitude creates a surge of brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, and these chemicals make you happy. Focusing on the good things in life helps release negative emotions.
A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences indicates that people who feel grateful have fewer aches and pains, and report that they generally feel healthier than those who don’t feel so grateful. The study also reports that those who feel gratitude are more likely to take care of their physical health — they exercise more frequently and are more likely to have check-ups regularly. And of course, those habits are likely to enhance longevity!
How Can Gratitude Benefit You?
There are many ways that an attitude of gratitude can benefit your life. Studies have even shown that thankfulness and the expression of gratitude can have profound effects on health, moods, and interpersonal relationships. Additional benefits of gratitude:
- Relationships benefit from gratitude: Feeling and expressing gratitude can help build and strengthen relationships of all kinds. Gratitude helps you connect with others, and makes others feel appreciated by you.
- Gratitude boosts self-esteem: Focusing on all the good things about yourself can help you appreciate who you are. Having gratitude for your strengths helps to boost self-esteem. While everything about ourselves may not be perfect, being aware of what we’re great at and giving ourselves thanks and recognition is powerful for boosting self-esteem.
- Satisfaction with your life: One of the keys to enjoying life is appreciating what you have! It is important to take stock of your experiences, the joys in your life, and all the good things that you already have. Continuously reminding yourself of what you already have, instead of focusing on what you don’t, can bring more happiness and satisfaction to your life.
How to Feel More Grateful: Starting a Daily Gratitude Practice
If you want more gratitude in your life, there are plenty of simple ways to get it. How about replacing complaints with gratitude statements — both expressed and unexpressed? You can also try being more mindful in the current moment, to help you pick up on the little things that enhance your life — the gentle breeze, the colors of the fall leaves, the warm and comforting feeling of your meal. Practice the Emotion Code® to help you release negativity and allow more gratitude into your life. Embrace gratitude regularly, and you’ll probably find yourself feeling a physical and emotional boost.
By focusing on the positive, you invite more positivity into your life. Gratitude is a habit you can cultivate, like brushing your teeth or drinking enough water! By taking time each and every day to focus on gratitude for all that you have, you’ll start to appreciate the gifts in your life even more.
Gratitude Journaling to Cultivate More Gratitude
There are many different ways to start a gratitude practice, but one of the simplest is to try gratitude journaling. All you need in order to get started is a piece of paper and a pen. You might choose a nice journal to write in each day. There are some journals that are created with gratitude prompts already included that might make it easier to begin. Then, simply start by writing down a few things you’re grateful for. Go into as much detail as you can. If you feel stumped getting started, that’s okay, give yourself time. As you practice gratitude more frequently, you’ll likely be able to identify things you’re grateful for with ease. By shifting your focus to what you’re grateful for, you’ll start to see all the blessings in your life more clearly.
Learn how an attitude of gratitude transformed the life of one of our practitioners: “With Infinite Love, Compassion and Gratitude… We Can Change Our World”
Below you’ll find a few writing prompts to get you started, all focused on gratitude:
- Write about a person in your life who you’re thankful for.
- What skills or abilities do you have that you’re grateful for?
- Write a note to someone to whom you’re grateful (bonus points if you share the note with them!).
- What positive changes in your life have happened in the last year?
- What is something you’re grateful to have learned this week?
- What are you thankful for about the city you live in?
- What does your body allow you to do that you’re grateful for?
- Write about something that you have been taking for granted, that you’re glad is part of your life.
Try this gratitude journaling exercise every day and see how you feel! Notice if you begin to become more aware of the good things in your life. As you take time each day to shift your outlook to one of gratitude, and as you consistently express your appreciation, perhaps you’ll begin to feel more satisfied with the life you live!
Gratitude and Energy Healing Work
Cultivating gratitude in ourselves (and those we work with in an energy healing practice) can have a very real effect on our ability to release trapped emotions and Heart-Walls®. It takes not only feeling gratitude but also belief. Think of it in terms of this equation:
Your Belief That You Can Do It + Your Gratitude to God That You Are Doing It = The Results You Want to Obtain
Gratitude is an essential part of this equation, and we can’t overemphasize the importance of the word “doing.” In other words, your gratitude to God that you are doing it is significant, because it is to God that we owe everything that we have and are, and it is to Him that we owe every opportunity that lies in our path.
As you learn to cultivate gratitude to God for what you already have, your faith and belief can increase, and you can draw yourself closer to that very source of power from which all things flow. You may soon find yourself doing the very thing that was once only a dream.
Try this with the Emotion Code and the Body Code™. All you have to do is believe and be grateful as you practice, and you can succeed.
Want to learn more about the relationship between gratitude and energy healing? Energy Healing Practitioner Certification will give you the most complete education in Level 1: Emotion Code and Level 2: Body Code!