Updated: Oct 27, 2021
Gratitude is the practice of feeling content with what you have been given, whether it is a gift from someone or it’s a life circumstance. Displaying gratitude is the act of recognizing some type of benefit and “ blessing” with what you have.
In the field of mental health and spirituality, it has long been known that having an attitude of gratitude brings joy and happiness to one’s life. It enables a person to see the positive side of a situation and to be able to handle what is thrown at them in life with greater ease. Learning to be grateful allows one to see obstacles as opportunities for growth and to gain a better understanding that they can get through challenging times. Gratitude enables a person to be more flexible in situations that they have very little control over because what they turn their attention to are the things they can control and be thankful for. This outlook can have a huge impact on your mood and perspective and has proven to reduce fear and anxiety in situations where one feels uncertain.
Being grateful not only helps our mood and reduces the anxiety and fear we are all experiencing at some level right now, but it is also beneficial to one’s physical health. According to a May 5, 2021, UC Davis article from Newsroom:
Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis, says the best medicine for mental health is a regular practice of gratitude. “It is precisely during difficult times where gratitude achieves its maximal power,” said Emmons, who is a world-recognized expert on the science of gratitude. “In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize. In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope.”
Of course, it may not be easy to feel grateful if you’ve lost a job, lost a loved one to COVID-19 or are struggling with long-haul COVID symptoms. It’s not easy if you’re missing friends and family members that you haven’t hugged in over a year, either.
There are clear medicinal benefits to gratitude. “There is evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress in general, whether we’re talking about minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals,” noted Emmons.He says clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. It’s also been associated with higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL), lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), fewer symptoms of depression, less fatigue and higher levels of heart rate variability (a marker of cardiac health).
A recent review of all of the studies on gratitude and cardiovascular health outcomes, published in the Journal of Positive Psychology, concluded that, “gratitude can be a low-cost intervention in health care that can lead to improved health behaviors and better cardiovascular outcomes for patients living with cardiovascular disease.”
So how can we take this “ attitude of gratitude” and use it to help cope with this current pandemic?
Focus on the things in your life that are working for you and bring you happiness.
Start a gratitude journal and write down three things every day that you are grateful for or write down situations in which you are grateful that someone helped you or that you were able to be a service to someone else.
Learn to say two simple words every day: “ THANK YOU.” And say it with meaning and appreciation so you can see how others in your life care for you and are happy to support you in ways you may have taken for granted.
Volunteer your service to others that may be less fortunate than you or are falling on hard times. This act of service just naturally brings about an attitude of gratitude because we appreciate how we can use our gifts and talents to help others.
So make sure to take your daily supplement of GRATITUDE and witness the power of positivity and resiliency unfold before your eyes.