I’m grateful to be part of a newly formed company that’s seeking to help in this present time of turbulence and stress. In this time of Covid, or when people are ill and families stressed and struggling, it may at first seem odd to speak of gratitude. However I have come to appreciate the importance and tremendous value of gratitude as a game changer.
There are currently many studies in the neuroscience literature illustrating the positive effects that gratitude has on our nervous system. It’s akin to smiles and laughter being the best medicine. These are not ‘old wives tales’ – they’re truths that aren’t given much attention by our current medical practices. Every thought we think affects the chemicals that are released in our bodies and therefore determines how we feel. Our thoughts create our feelings, our personal stories – and our stories create our lives, our reality. Finding the good in our lives even during times of great stress helps to disarm the power of the stressor, whatever it may be.
Sonja Lyubomirsky, a prominent positive psychology researcher, believes that
gratitude is a ‘meta-strategy’ for wellness. She writes: “Gratitude is an antidote to
negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is present-oriented.”
I once listened to a yoga coach advise that gratitude become a verb in life rather than a noun. I also read somewhere that “gratitude is the open door to abundance”. Brene Brown says gratitude is more than an attitude, it’s a practice.
So how do we practice gratitude? Reflecting on what we’re grateful for as we fall asleep at night is a meeting with gratitude. Writing the words down on paper is an expression of gratitude put out into the world. Keeping a gratitude journal helps to discover, define, and notice the positives in our lives. It helps to prevent us from ‘playing the victim’ to our circumstances. We can also dress all our actions in gratitude – holding an intention of gratefulness in every action we take. And we can even be grateful for the pain and sorrow that happens in our lives, realizing that within it there is opportunity for personal growth.
Gratitude helps us to focus on what we have instead of what we lack. It softens us and opens us to learning and healing. It can help to make a very difficult journey easier and more valuable – the journey of life.