By Marian Connor
I was thinking… about Gratitude. Usually the events of our daily life come and go without much fanfare, because they are exactly that, daily, mundane – nothing to write home about. Unless something major occurs to stop us in our tracks and force us to pay attention, we pootle along with our eye on the prize of the big stuff, worth patting ourselves on the back for, pay bonus, holidays, Friday nights out, completing a 10k run, the weekend, often missing all the small wonders on route.
We need to take the time for gratitude it is another way of being mindful. It costs nothing; it makes us feel good and is beneficial to our physical and mental wellbeing.
When negative things happen to us, we often give it a lot of press coverage, ‘Why did that happen? Why didn’t I avoid it?’ he said, she said, round and round it goes, taking up more space that it really deserves.
Conversely when something positive happens or we achieve something, albeit something small, we may give it a few lines, if it’s lucky, oh that was okay, could have been better and move on. We need to change this habit.
We need to big up the good stuff.
As Robert Emmons says in Greater Good.
Soak it up
“As you go through life, make this your goal. Keep your eye on the doughnut and not on the hole.”
If we are grateful for our experiences that are good and spend a little time in that gratitude, we are being mindful of the moment or event.
When you appreciate the value of something you get more benefit from it. This prevents us spectating; it means we participate in the game of life.
Research by Robert Emmons at University of California Davis found grateful individuals report higher positive mood, optimism, life satisfaction, vitality and less depression than less grateful individuals.
They benefit from better sleep patterns, lower stress levels and improved emotional and physical wellbeing.
A grateful heart triggers parasympathetic neurons. The system response creates a coherent heart pattern that results in a cascade of positive effects.
“Gratitude is a vaccine, an antitoxin, and an antiseptic.”
John Henry Jowett
Gratitude also strengthens social ties and feelings of self worth. When you are grateful you acknowledge others are looking out for you and after you. This can make you feel better about yourself and create a positive environment.
Gratitude can be applied to any time or event. No need to limit yourself to a time scale. Research shows that gratitude can be applied to the past, being thankful for childhood happiness or past blessings. The present, not taking good luck for granted. The future, by having a hopeful optimistic outlook.
There is a multitude of evidence appearing in praise of gratitude. Daily there are studies cited across the media. All support the link between gratitude and well being. To cultivate gratitude on a regular basis you could…
Write thank you notes – sometimes to yourself
Thank someone mentally
Count your blessings
Keep a gratitude diary
Dr Brian Roet refers to keeping a gratitude journal as ‘Panning for Gold.” I suggest you don’t look for the dirt as you swirl the pan on your search for gold, look for the specs of sparkle. Before bed take a few moments to notice the good things that happened, the little nuggets in all their shapes and sizes, and write them down. The physical act of writing creates a greater impact than speaking the words; it filters your brain processing and gives more importance to what you are focusing on at that moment, by telling the brain to pay attention.
If you do this before you sleep your last thoughts before bye byes will be on positive things.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
William Arthur Ward
Here is a beautiful film by Louie Schwartzberg about gratitude.
This is a Guardian newspaper article by Tom Chatfield about the benefits of writing about our gratitude.
Here is a poem written and read by Jackie Kay celebrating a long friendship. I love the poem and I too celebrate all my friends and the particular bond with those I have spent most of my life with.
Let the alchemy continue with our eighth element, ‘Contribute’ in our next blog post!
If we have whet your appetite for further discovery, keep in mind that we create interactive experiential workshops and events embracing the 8 elements, exploring a myriad of ways to enhance your happiness and health. Oh yes and let’s not forget these are beautifully packaged with individually created accoutrements for your delectation. All delivered by us, in a delicious way.
If you haven’t already read our introduction to the 8 Elements, why not check out ‘The Alchemy of 8’
Image Tile/Header- Campanula Medium Bell Flower – The Campanula flower is frequently given as a ‘thank you’ gift, as these blossoms are believed to represent gratitude.
YouTube clip – Nature, Beauty, Gratitude by Louie Schwartzberg TEDxSF duration 9.55
Guardian newspaper article from 23rd February 2015– Why reading and writing on paper can be better for you brain by Tom Chatfield
YouTube clip – Fiere by Jackie Kay duration 1.27
Research by Dr Robert Emmons, a leading scientific expert on gratitude, can be found via Greater Good, University of California, Berkeley
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