In light of yesterday’s holiday, I’d like to have you do something.
Don’t worry… It’s a simple exercise, but the benefits are far-reaching and can have a lifelong impact.
Here’s just a sampling of what it can do:
- Help you better cope with daily challenges
- Improve your diet
- Reduce stress
- Strengthen your immune system
- Make you want to exercise more
- Improve your overall outlook on life
- Fight depression
- Improve your relationships
- Improve sleep.
There’s no pill to take. There are zero side effects. And it won’t cost you a dime.
It’s an exercise in gratitude.
Write It Down
Grab a pen and a piece of paper. Write down 10 things you are thankful for.
Coming up with 10 can be hard. So many of the things we should be thankful for we take for granted.
For instance, it’s rare we take time to be thankful for the food we eat, the roof over our heads or the connections we have with friends and family. But those are great places to start.
Once you’ve got your 10 things written down, put that piece of paper in a safe place. Add to it whenever you discover new things you are thankful for.
In a matter of weeks, you’ll find yourself with a long list… and the more time you spend thinking about being grateful, the more you’ll find to be grateful for.
The basis of this exercise comes from a relatively new area of science called “positive psychology.”
It studies the positive aspects of human experience with a focus on individual and societal well-being.
Practice Makes a Habit
It’s so easy to focus on the negative (especially when the media hammers us with it 24/7). And that can cause stress and harm to our mind and body.
That list you started is going to help you maintain a more positive outlook.
Because the more you practice being grateful, the more naturally it will come… and eventually your brain will be trained to think positively.
And that comes with many benefits, as I mentioned at the top…
Research out of Northwestern University showed that those who felt grateful for something every day were more patient… and they were prone to making more sensible long-term decisions.1
This can have a huge impact on our willpower… our decisiveness… and what choices we make every single day.
Having more positive thoughts at night has also been proven to help people sleep better and longer.
A study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research concluded that focusing on positive thoughts before going to sleep can actually soothe the nervous system.2
This is why it’s particularly helpful for you to revisit and add to the list of things you are thankful for every night as you’re preparing for bed.
While the benefits of better decision making and a good amount of rest are huge in their own right, the power of gratitude over depression couldn’t be much clearer.
Those who focus on things they are grateful for have shown considerable improvement in depression and overall happiness.3
That’s a faster and more positive an outcome than just about any drug out there that’s prescribed for depression.
And when it comes to relationships, being grateful for your spouse, family and friends can have an amazing impact on your connections.
It can increase your overall satisfaction in your relationships… and that goes both ways, according to a study published in the Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology.4
Sharing with a loved one what you are grateful for leads to an increased connection and satisfaction with the relationship from both the recipient and the benefactor.
This is all strong evidence in support of being grateful, but let’s keep going…
Your Heart Can Take It
Gratitude is good for your health. A 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences showed that grateful people have fewer aches and pains… and take better care of their health. They also exercise more.
There is even reason to believe that a little gratitude can go a long way when it comes to heart health.
Those who were grateful for something every day had improved heart rate variability, or HRV, which is an indicator of a healthy heart.5
And keeping a list of things that you are thankful for can go so far as to actually lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks.6
Grateful people have also been found to have significantly lower levels of a protein found in red blood cells called Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) that is a known biomarker associated with increased rates of heart failure.7
These are some powerful results.
Gratitude is just about the most natural health remedy you can find. And the price can’t be beat.
By simply acknowledging the things you’re thankful for, you can influence the health of your mind and body… and lead a happier and healthier life.