According to a study published in April 2015 by the American Psychological Association (APA), a grateful heart is a healthier heart.
So, what is a grateful heart? Being grateful means showing gratitude or thankfulness. Traditionally, the heart has been viewed as the center of your emotional wellbeing – love, kindness, and gratitude. In modern times we’ve come to know that the heart is actually a muscle that pumps blood that sustains life, but it may be helpful to regard your heart in the traditional sense too.
Many, if not most faiths, spiritual traditions, and religions have long extolled the virtues of prayers and meditations of thankfulness and gratitude. Based on recent scientific research, including the article cited above, it appears science has perhaps caught up with faith – a spirit of gratefulness can improve one’s wellbeing.
It’s only fitting that during this season of Thanksgiving, we take time out to explore ways to cultivate a grateful heart for healthy living. Here are some ways that I try and incorporate a spirit of gratitude in my daily living:
- The first and most important way to be grateful is to make the choice to be that way. This may sound obvious, but the subtle point is that it’s a choice, not necessarily how you feel. Gratitude typically doesn’t fall out of the sky and hit you on the head. It starts on the inside – from your heart. If you want to find joy, it’s found on the path of gratitude.
- Another way that I incorporate gratitude is to take time out each day to pray. Regardless of your faith or spiritual beliefs, taking a moment to pray, meditate, or reflect can help you develop a feeling of gratefulness. Buddhists call it “loving kindness.” I am a Christian, and we call it a “Prayer of Thanksgiving.”
- Keep a journal. Taking stock of the positives in your life can also help develop a sense of thankfulness. What are you thankful for – family, friends, health, home, community? How about the lady that let you into the right lane of traffic or the gentleman that waited patiently for the server to take your order first? Find the overlooked, the obvious, as well as the obscure moments in life. Focusing on the positive helps put the negative in perspective.
- Expressing gratitude or acts of kindness are other ways to cultivate gratefulness. When’s the last time you said “thank you” to your spouse, children, teachers, friends, family, or even a total stranger? How do you feel when someone expresses gratitude to you? Giving and receiving thanks through actions or words makes the world a better place. Let’s send cards, open doors, and give big smiles.
During this season of Thanksgiving, I’d like to express my gratitude to my family, my friends, and also you – my readers. You inspire, encourage, and motivate me. I’m grateful for your accountability. It produces “relentless forward progress”. What are you thankful for today?
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you all.