When I was younger, I used to keep a diary but what I was writing was not reflecting the many positives in my life. My mental habits were set to see the negatives and to hold on to them. And on my journey to seek balance, I realised this was not doing me any good. While in Las Vegas this year for the IDEA WORLD health and wellness convention, I came across my first gratitude journal one afternoon after mass. I felt this was a moment to change my ‘programming’ and start building the new habit to focus on the good in my life.
What are the benefits of having a regular gratitude practice?
Last time we spoke a bit about stress management and this would be a great technique to continue on that subject. In life, it is becoming clearer how developing more gratitude can be associated with more peace in the mind and therefore having the powerful potential to reduce stress.
Here’s a simple yet powerful example:
I began yoga in 2014 with the One Yoga community almost 4 years ago and my mind was opened up to the fact that a perceived stressful situation such as traffic could be reinterpreted as opportunity. This opened up a space for me to love my car time as ‘me time’. My car play time looks like dancing and singing, listening to podcasts, or recording messages and reminders for dinner. When my perception of stress changed, I changed. This is not to say that I do not get angry, bothered or upset because I am human, but over time there is more awareness and deeper appreciation developed.
While I celebrate Thanksgiving with my U.S. friends, I think that the deeper meaning behind this holiday can apply all over the world: To pause and be grateful for one’s blessings and to spend cherished time with loved ones.
In this week’s blog, I thought it would be beneficial to share some key components of developing a practice of gratitude; because it may change your life, like it has mine.
When you start giving thanks, reflect on how it makes you feel and capture that moment. It’s a great feeling and I know you will want more!
What is science saying about it?
Paul Mills who is a professor in family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine conducted research, specific to how a positive mental attitude is good for your heart. He researches disease processes and behaviour for heart health. The research included 186 men and women average age 66 with current damage to hearts, through years of sustained high blood pressure or as a result of heart attack or heart infection.
The study measured the body’s natural response to injury and plaque build-up in the arteries which found reductions in inflammation amongst those who were found to have more gratitude.
They rated how grateful they were for the people, places or things in their lives through a questionnaire in which they were found to be healthier. After two months the subjects were retested after being subscribed to keep a gratitude journal for a few days a week.
So science is showing that the practice of gratitude fends of depression, heart disease and anxiety! Yayy!
Increased feelings of more joy, more alive, sleep better and wake up refreshed. I’ll take that!
Does expressing gratitude make you uncomfortable?
It used to make me feel strange! I had developed a comfort zone by which it was normal for me to complain and find critiques to make. It helped me to remove expectation and therefore disappointments by switching my focus to more gratitude. I truly found the practice healing and completely revitalising. Society can have impacts on us through marketing, or through our busy live that may not encourage us to vocalise gratitude and deep appreciation. Courage helps us to unveil these positive attributes and feel free to express them vocally.
What are my top 3 tips for enduring such a fun and uplifting practice?
Start a gratitude journal
Start with the simple things like waking up, tea, pets, travel, good food, lunch, plants, spouses, family, love and nature.
Speak your gratitude when you feel it. Say it to yourself or better yet to the person who is making you feel thankful!
What are the simplest ways to demonstrate gratitude?
Send a prayer through thought to someone you love or especially if you should are holding a grudge towards them.
Share your cooking, meal snack with someone and explain you wish to do it to say thanks.
Send a message to someone and let them know how much you are grateful for an experience they shared with you.
Set an intention to create a great experience with a friend or enemy.
Remember to say a simple thank you.
Say thank you to your mind, body, and spirit.
Have your friends over and let them know how much you appreciate them being a part of your journey.
Tonight I am so excited to have a thanksgiving dinner with my friends. On our menu we have and I am so excited listed below!
Whole roast turkey, roasted veggies which are my favourite including broccoli, onions, pumpkin and peppers. We will also have mushroom rice, vegan bean burgers, mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy!!
I am Opening up with some vulnerability and courage to share some of my gratitudes listed below.
God for God is Love.
David for providing me with opportunities for my education and inspiring me travel to attend conferences.
My teachers who come in the form of friends, roomies, mentors, consultants, instructors, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. Love is all.
Caroline because you believed and for providing me with the opportunity to study Personal Training (TRX and Kbell) and sport nutrition for performance.
Oliver because you are my soulmate and we dream.
My Team Leah, Julian, Marquina thank you for Believing.
Grateful for my Green Team Yay!
I really hope that you can tell that the habit of giving thanks does not happen overnight. There are even times when I forget or feel bogged down by things that may be going on in my life. All new habits take at least 21 days to become the new normal, so go easy on yourself as you start to build this habit. I love my gratitude journal because it reminds me that I can retrain my perspective and find the great along the struggles of growth. The main thing is that you do remind yourself that it is important and that it can positively impact your health.
My heart is filled with gratitude and joy! So much growth is happening and I am grateful for you on the team towards greatness and wellness!!