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Gratitude is Good For You!

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful for what is, some noteworthy aspects of gratitude are:
·         Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness
·         Gratitude recognizes that this goodness comes from outside of the self
Gratitude is profoundly positive emotion, it is a key component in positive psychology. Yet it is frequently discounted or overlooked as a tool for improving mood. Recent scientific studies have demonstrated a number of benefits that come as a direct result of cultivating and practicing gratitude.  Gratitude inspires us to take better care of our health and helps us cope with stress. Those who practice gratitude also have stronger relationships and immune systems, lower blood pressure, and more joy! Recognizing what we are thankful for is a fairly straightforward and simple practice which does not require any equipment or monthly fees, it’s silly not to practice gratitude!
How your life can grow with gratitude
Grateful people experience an increased sense of well-being and joy. Gratitude also increases optimism, empathy,  and self-esteem. Being appreciative can change the emotional landscape of your life in other ways too,  a 2014 study showed that when you thank new acquaintances, they feel more compelled to work for a continued relationship. When you take the time to thank colleagues for contributions, they feel a greater desire to work with you in the future. Gratitude can literally build and strengthen relationships. Gratitude also reduces tendencies toward aggression because grateful people are more sensitive to the feelings of others. Envy is a contributing factor in poor self-esteem and research demonstrates that feeling thankful for what you have reduces the tendency to make social comparisons and feel envious.
Healthy habits
You may have heard that it is not possible to feel gratitude and fear at the same time.  Research has proven that it is true, it is a fact of neurology that the states of fear and appreciation are mutually exclusive. By reducing toxic emotions like fear, frustration, and envy, studies have demonstrated that feelings of gratitude can increase happiness and reduce instances of depression. Additionally, people who practice gratitude report feeling healthier and take better care of themselves, exercising and visiting their primary care physician for regular checkups. resulting in better health overall.
Practicing gratitude
Now that we have demonstrated that cultivating gratitude has myriad benefits, let’s look at a few approaches that you can take to developing your own practice of gratitude.
Gratitude journal
The most popular gratitude practice is probably keeping a gratitude journal. According to a 2014 study, keeping  a gratitude journal results in better, longer sleep, and who can’t use a little more rest in this busy world? To develop this practice, it is recommended that you keep your journal in the same place and choose a time when you will write in it each day. As with any other habit or practice, consistency is key. By spending only 5 minutes each day writing a list of a few things you feel thankful for, you can improve your outlook and your life!
First thoughts/last thoughts
A great way to set the tone of your day is with gratitude. Upon waking, before you spring into action (or stumble to the coffee pot) think of a few things for which you are thankful. This will set a positive tone for the whole day. Alternately, you may choose to spend the last few minutes before you drift off to sleep thinking about the things you appreciate in your life. This will bring your day to a calm and happy close. Preparing you for a restful night of sleep.
Thank you notes
The lost art of the thank you note is something that is seldom remembered, but always appreciated. While those of us who are a little older were taught that taking the time to send a written thank you was vitally important, the practice has fallen out of fashion. If you send thanks to folks who have done something thoughtful for you, you will be amazed by the delight they express at being appreciated in such a concrete way.  This is a special gratitude practice because while you are writing the note, you are in gratitude mode, and then when you experience the appreciation the recipient feels at being appreciated, you will again be put in that state of mind!
These are only a few practices, you may think of ways to consider your own appreciation that works better for you. Developing an attitude of gratitude can literally transform your life. Being appreciative makes you feel better about yourself and more compassionate toward others. Choosing a simple daily practice of gratitude is free and has the potential to improve every part of your daily life. It’s a win-win!
Dr. Eileen Wynne

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