Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of days here in the United States.
It's one of my favorite holidays because it's purpose is spending time with friends and family, eating a nice meal, and ideally expressing gratitude what we have in our lives. It's an innately positive experience, even when we factor in the family dynamics we might be dealing with. (-;
While it's nice to have a day focused on expressing our gratitude, practicing gratitude on a daily basis has many positive effects, some of which you may surprise you.
First, though, I'd like to give a little explanation about practicing gratitude, while understanding that it can take many different forms.
What is a gratitude practice?
A gratitude practice is simply taking time every day to express gratitude for the blessings in your life. These blessings are often overlooked if we don't consciously take the time to count them.
What happens when you practice gratitude?
1. Your personal perspective changes.
When you practice gratitude your focus changes from what you don't have to what you do have.
When you focus on what you have, or what you're grateful for, your sense of negativity, entitlement, and obstacles dissolve.
It helps to remember that reality is personal and subjective. It's a product of your own unique history, your attitudes, and your beliefs.
If you can remember that, then with your inner awareness you can see the possibilities and the choice for change in any moment.
It's liberating to understand that you can change your reality and it empowers you to see the opportunities in your life with fresh eyes.
2. Your mind-body connections change.
The feelings you produce from practicing gratitude doesn't just stay in your mind or in your heart. The positive input to your mind-body system leads to increased psychological and physical well-being.
This positive input from your mind actually changes your brain chemistry and circuitry. Positive thoughts transmit their effects via neurotransmitters to the body's cells, creating new brain cells, pathways, and brain patterns.
Positive thoughts have even been found to change your gene expression in a positive way.
The field of epigenetics is devoted to the study of gene expression and how your lifestyle and the things that happen to you in your life can change how our genes are expressed.
Without going into all of the technical detail, don't you think it's exciting?
Not only will a gratitude practice increase our happiness and contentedness, but it can also impact our health and well-being in a positive way.
3. Your relationships change
Feeling gratitude towards others, expands your heart which has the effect of erasing resentments, petty differences and old grievances that you might have been holding onto.
It's practically impossible to feel both gratitude and anger at the same time.
Gratitude is an expression of love and can help to remove feelings of distance and separation from your loved ones.
Gratitude benefits both the giver and receiver. The expansion and the healing of your heart uplifts and opens every aspect of your relationship with that person. These feelings are shared by both of you.
What if you could completely transform your relationships just by practicing gratitude? Hint: It's way cheaper than therapy!
No matter when you're reading this, try to make practicing gratitude part of your life. Whether it's appreciating a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or just being grateful you have a roof over your head, it will make a difference in your perception of your life.
Some ways to bring a gratitude practice into your life:
I hope you start or renew a gratitude practice. Three of the ways you can change your life for the better by practicing gratitude are: seeing the possibilities and the choice for change in any moment; increase your happiness and contentedness; and improving your relationships.
Will you give a gratitude practice a try?
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Hi, I’m Crystal!
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