Practicing Gratitude


I Study a lot of personal development concepts. Perhaps the most simplistic and surprising discovery I have made is the enormous power of actively “practicing gratitude”.  Some of you may be thinking, “yea, yea… be grateful… I’ve heard it before… I’m grateful.”  Although “being grateful” is a good thing, it completely misses the life changing power of “practicing gratitude’.

By practicing gratitude, I mean setting aside a 5 to 10 minute block of time and immersing yourself in thoughts of gratitude. This could be in the form of prayer, or meditation, or simply a quiet solitude thinking session. Try as hard as you can to do nothing but think about things you are grateful for. Small things, like your favorite food or something you enjoy. Big things, like health and family and friends. Nature things, like sunshine or the wind.  Personal things, like your job, a talent, or an opportunity you have.

The key here is to immerse yourself. Keep out any distracting thoughts or interruptions. Let the gratitude fill your mind, body, and soul. Be receptive to how your body feels as you concentrate on being thankful. Allow the feeling of gratitude to consume you. Think it and feel it. When you are done with your 5 to 10 minute session, you will have changed your state of mind.

I have found that it is impossible to feel angry or worried or depressed when you are feeling grateful. The mind cannot think these opposite thoughts at the same time, and more importantly, the body cannot feel these opposite feelings at the same time. When I am stressed out and at my wits end, instead of acting out in frustration and anger, I try to remember this exercise. It has never failed me; though sometime I don’t remember this exercise soon enough! That’s where habit comes in. Why not make practicing gratitude a daily habit.  Tony Robbins starts every single morning with a “priming” session that begins with thinking of three things he is grateful for.  Robbins explains the reasons he starts with gratitude is because of its ability to overpower the dangerous emotions that can sidetrack us. Those emotions are fear and anger. Robbins says, “you can’t be grateful and fearful simultaneously, and you can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously. They don’t go together.”

The benefits of practicing gratitude extend from psychological to physical. Dr. Robert Emmons a leading psychologist, has studied the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude definitively increases happiness and decreases depression, by actually reducing multiple unhealthy emotions from envy and resentment, to frustration and regret.  Further, a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky found those who ranked higher on gratitude scales, experienced more sensitivity and empathy towards other people and were less likely to retaliate or seek revenge against others, even when provoked. A 2014 study by the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology found that gratitude increases personal self-esteem. The study found that grateful people are able to appreciate other peoples’ accomplishments, rather than becoming resentful or jealous towards others– a key component in increasing one’s own self esteem. Finally, a 2012 study titled “Personality and Individual Differences”, found that grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report an overall healthier feeling. It also found grateful people were more likely to take care of their health by exercising more, eating healthier and receiving regular checkups–contributing to their longevity and quality of life.

 Here’s what I want you to take away from this:

There is a very simple and scientifically proven method to change your state of mind. By taking 5 to 10 minutes and actively practicing gratitude you can change your life for the better.  The benefits of this are increased well-being, both psychologically and physically. You can positively impact your mood and your health by making this a daily habit.

Gratefully yours, Iron Mike Stone 11-23-2017

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