Why Grow Your Gratitude?
It is very easy for us to fall into the trap of feeding ourselves with negative thoughts, anxious imaginings, and unkind self-talk. However, harbouring and nurturing these kinds of thoughts can promote stress in the body. Shifting to a practice of gratitude can help us to avoid negative and pessimistic thinking, reducing stress on the body.
Researchers at Northeastern University also determined that people who felt grateful were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions with longer-term positive implications.
The connection between gratitude and patience has also been shown to boost your impulse control around food – researchers recommend writing down a quick list of things that you’re grateful for, which can help clear your mind and calm down, if you’re struggling with feelings of impulsive eating.
Further benefits of gratitude include better-quality sleep. Research in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research allows us to have more positive thoughts before we go to sleep, soothing our nervous system and helping us sleep better and longer. Better sleep, of course, improves our overall wellbeing by helping to reduce our stress and related inflammation.
How Can You Harvest Gratitude Daily?
During the long, dark winter months, our natural inclination can be to fall into feelings of negativity and anxiety. However, positive psychology is a growing field which encourages us to practice gratitude consistently, each day, immediately when we wake up and right before we go to sleep. The Five Minute Journal is a simple tool, which you can use to start and end your day happier.
You can also take a moment to Share Gratitude around the dinner table each evening with your family, by asking each person around the table to share one thing that they are grateful for. This will have the dual benefit of allowing your body to start the digestion process and set the relaxed tone needed to fully absorb the nutrients from your meal.
If you would like to try something that the whole family can see and talk about on a regular basis, try starting a Gratitude Jar. Keep it in a special and convenient place which is visible to everyone in the house. Every day when you have your first cup of coffee or tea, write down one thing that you are thankful for and add it to the Jar.
Importantly, try not to judge your own thoughts about your feelings of gratitude. Open your mind, and allow yourself to feel gratitude for whatever feels special and meaningful to you personally.