Research has shown that people who practice gratitude on a regular basis experience better physical and psychological health combined with a much stronger sense of wellbeing. They tend to be more optimistic, joyful and engaged in life. They are far less susceptible to negative emotions such as anger, anxiety or even depression. In addition, gratefulness and optimism have been linked with better immune health. A University of Utah study found that stressed-out law students who were optimistic had more immune-boosting blood cells than those who were pessimistic. The simple truth is that being grateful is just good for your overall health.
When I first open my eyes in the morning, I like to take a sort of “Gratitude Inventory”. Before I get out of bed, I try to make it a point to run through a mental list of everything for which I’m grateful. It really seems to set the tone for the day and helps me to focus on and appreciate other things I experience throughout the day. When I’m having a particularly difficult day, I try to take a few moments to review my list. It always seems to make the situation a little less worrisome.
Sometimes I feel the need to give a little “constructive criticism” to my amazingly accepting girlfriend and what I’ve found is that if I preface my comment with letting her know just how truly grateful I am for her, it tends to make the process of working through our differences go much more smoothly. If I find myself getting upset or angry with someone I encounter, I tell myself to stop, take a deep breath and try to think of reasons why I’m grateful that this crazy SOB has come into my life. I’m not saying this one is easy, but when I’m able to pull it off, I can literally feel my mood shift away from anger. When I hit that proverbial bump in the road on the highway of life, I tend to look at it as a learning opportunity. Many times, the lessons of my failures have led to some of my greatest successes.
One of my favorite expressions of gratitude is the simple act of saying thank you. Not only does this make me feel better about myself, but it just might be the single interaction that turns that person’s day in a positive direction and that can be contagious. Most importantly, I try to focus on all the wonderful things I do have and not the things I don’t. I’m not telling you that I don’t have bad days and sometimes fall off the “gratitude wagon”, but in the words of John F. Kennedy (a great dude indeed), “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them”.
Have a Grateful Thanksgiving Dudes!