Did you know that it’s almost impossible to be upset and grateful at the same time?
It’s one of those universal truths that is easy to prove — just try it yourself. Being thankful flips a switch inside of you that clears out any negative feelings you were experiencing a few moments before.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” —William Arthur Ward
It may seem counterintuitive to feel grateful when things are challenging in your life. But what if this emotion became more than just a reaction to good news and was something we felt all the time?
New research is showing that a gratitude practice doesn’t only make you happier and more fulfilled, but can also save your life.
A study from the University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine discovered that people who were more grateful had better heart health — specifically less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms.
The study’s author, Paul J. Mills, explains,
“They showed a better well-being, a less depressed mood, less fatigue, and they slept better. We found that those patients who kept gratitude journals for eight weeks showed reductions in circulating levels of several important inflammatory biomarkers, as well as an increase in heart rate variability while they wrote. Improved heart rate variability is considered a measure of reduced cardiac risk.”
Gratitude is good for you! But don’t take our word for it. Try it out for yourself and see if it makes a difference. To aid you in some random acts of gratitude, we’ve listed 3 heart-opening ideas below.
Before we get to those, I’d like to share a little ritual we do in our house to keep the thankfulness alive and radiant. It’s our own version of grace that we say at the kitchen table every night. My five-year-old son River knows that before we eat dinner, we say “the grateful things.”
Although he’s still young, he seems to have a grasp of gratitude that inspires me, and touches deeply into something that I’m not always able to. I documented one of River’s recent prayers and included it below for you read. I hope his words inspire you too!
“Thank you, Pachamama, for this yummy delicious food that comes from your bounty and is gonna go into my body and give me the energy I need to be more kind and more compassionate, and be a better listener at school.
Thank you for the Moon that tugs on the tides and creates the weather, and for the rain that gives the plants water to drink. Thank you for the earth and all the nutrients in the soil, and all the little bugs that we can’t see that help bring those nutrients to the plants so they can eat.
Thank you to Father Sun who shines down his rays of light onto all the plants so they can grow and be healthy and give us food to eat..
Thank you to all the hands that touched this food. Thank you to the farmers who grew the food, and to the people who work in the store where we buy the food. And thank you mom and dad for cooking this meal for us.”
3 Easy Ways To Bring More Gratitude Into Your Life:
Creating a daily habit is the best way to start your internal gratitude engine and invite more joy, health, wealth, vitality, and abundance into your life. Here are 3 simple exercises to help you on your path:
1. Gratitude for a new day. Each morning, say a simple “thank you” for another new day of life.
2. Say a daily gratitude prayer for “the grateful things” at a mealtime. Choose a meal each day where you have a moment to sit and reflect on a few things that you’re grateful for in that moment.
3. Write down one grateful thing each day for the next ten days. Grab a notebook or pad of paper — or if you’re really ready to take this on, find yourself a beautiful blank journal. Begin with a ten-day practice, and each day list one thing you’re grateful for. If possible, try to mix it up, including something from each area of your life over that period.
Some gratitude inspiration, to help get you started:
- What you like about yourself, inside and out.
- Can you derive some bit of wisdom from a challenge you are currently facing?
- List your favorite people and what you love about them.
- Perhaps take a moment to focus on the good parts of your job, the work you get to do, the people you get to do it with, and the compensation you receive for it.
- What are the things you love about where you live?
- What is your favorite color? How does it make you feel?
- Have you received any kind words or praise lately?
- What are you good at? Do you have hidden talents?
- What are you looking forward to in life?
- Was the sky particularly beautiful today?
The opportunities to find things to be grateful for are endless. They don’t have to be big; it can be something as simple as that first ray of sunshine in the morning.