Back to Earth Gratitude Ritual For a Healthier, Happier Holiday by Natalie Berko
Thanksgiving has come and gone and now is the time when many of us take time to reflect upon all that we are thankful for. You have probably been doing this ritual for a long time as a tradition. With mindfulness practices becoming increasing in vogue research has shown that there are majot benefits to a regular gratitude practice. Robert Emmons, a professor in UC Davis’ psychology department and author of ‘Gratitude Works’, defines gratitude as an awareness of how we are supported and sustained by others as well as the desire to give back the good that we receive. People who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they’re thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Gratitude doesn’t need to be reserved only for momentous occasions. One may express gratitude for a promotion at work but it is important to also acknowledge the small things like a warm cup of coffee. Gratitude practice empowers us to take control over our emotional lives, and not be at the whim of circumstance. The following are a few ways to kick start a gratitude practice and maintain it as a lifelong habit.
Write a Letter... In a 2011 study of more than 200 relatively happy undergraduate students, those who wrote one meaningful letter of gratitude per week over the cause of three weeks – spending approximately 15 to 20 minutes on each – experienced significant gains in happiness and life satisfaction, and a decrease in depressive symptoms. This type of journaling works because it slowly changes the way we perceive situations by adjusting what we focus on. While you might always be thankful for your great family, writing “I’m grateful for my family” week after week doesn’t keep your brain on alert for fresh moments. When you are writing be as specific as possible and stretch yourself beyond the great stuff right in front of you. Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance your gratitude practice.
Speak Mindfully... Gratitude is as much about what you don’t say as what you do. Studies suggest that complaining about one’s problems may be linked to depression and anxiety. There are also benefit to venting of course but it’s all about striking a balance. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style. They will tend to talk about things such as gifts, blessings, fortune and abundance. Ungrateful people will tend to focus on deprivation, deservingness, regrets, need, scarcity and loss. The trick is to watch what you say, train your brain to speak positively both vocally and internally.
Natalie Berko Certified Crystal Healer
Immerse Yourself In It... If you feel you need an extra push to actually make gratitude a part of your daily life, reading inspirational materials can be a powerful tool. Ralph Waldo Emerson to Charles Dickens have weighed in on the importance of giving thanks and spending a few minutes reading others’ reflections of the importance of the practice will help you take it seriously in your own life. Once you have embraced your gratitude practice, give it some time before expecting changes. Habits take about three weeks and by then you should be experiencing positive changes.
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