How often do you experience a real sense of gratitude? This can be either having a sense of being grateful for just being alive or being thankful to others around you for what they bring to your life.
The last ten years have seen a host of research studies looking at the benefits of gratitude. People trained to cultivate gratitude appear to deal with stress better, have more sleep and improved physical and mental health. Cultivating gratitude might sound ‘cheesy’ but it is pretty strong medicine.
You can feel grateful for friends and family, for just being there. You can celebrate your home and the material comforts of your life. From a historical perspective, most of us live lives of unparalleled luxury.
It is possible to feel grateful for simply being alive. As one mindfulness expert has said, “As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.” Or maybe you can feel thankful that you are conscious. Consciousness remains a scientific mystery. We have no idea how our brains can generate this experience of being alive – we are a walking miracle.
As the late author Kurt Vonnegut Jr said, 'I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, 'If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.'
Perhaps the easiest way to cultivate gratitude is by beginning an evening ritual where you look back over your day and pick out the things for which you are thankful. If you haven’t ever done this it really is worth giving it a try for a few weeks. The research is crystal clear – it will be good for your health.
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