By Leslie Tomlinson, Yoga Therapy Student At MUIH
“A sense of gratitude is a powerful and positive experience that can promote a happier life…” (Kyeong et al., 2017). A daily or even weekly gratitude practice can make a big difference in your outlook on life. Studies show that a weekly practice of gratitude leads to a better sense of overall happiness and wellbeing (Wong and Brown, 2017). A focus on gratitude has been shown to lower heart rate levels and increase the nervous system response that helps calm the body and reverse the stress response. (Kyeong et. Al, 2017).
While gratitude practice benefits have been well documented for healthy populations in the past, in a 2017 study conducted at the University of Indiana, Dr. Joel Wong and Dr. Joshua Brown found that writing a letter of gratitude to one person a week, combined with counseling services, showed a greater improvement in mental health symptoms associated with depression and anxiety than just counseling alone. Benefits were noted after four weeks of implementing the gratitude practice consistently suggesting that it doesn’t take long to experience the benefits.
On this World Gratitude Day, there are many ways you can experience and share gratitude within your own environment. Gratitude walks are a great way to express thanks, connect to the external world, and get fresh air and movement. Walking on your favorite nature trail can give a great sense of joy. Expressing thanks for the flora and fauna, the oxygen in the air, the other humans for which we share the planet, and any other things that come to mind can be a great practice that can be done from any place in the world.
Where will you find and celebrate your sense of gratitude today?
Kyeong, S., Kim, J., Kim, D.J.,Kim, H.E., and Kim, J.J. (2017). Effects of gratitude meditation on neural network functional connectivity and brain-heart coupling. Scientific Reports, 7(1), 5058. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05520-9
Wong, J. and Brown, J. (June 6, 2017). How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain