"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle."
- Albert Einstein
Gratitude is one of the skills that we teach in Rewire. Studies demonstrate that the practice of gratitude is associated with mental and physical health benefits, including lowered blood pressure and improved immune system function. Dr. Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC Davis, suggests that the benefits of gratitude practice arise from being present focused and concentrated on what we have versus what is absent. The consistent practice of gratitude brightens our outlook on life and ultimately helps our mood.
As is the case for all skills taught in Rewire, the best results come from a dedicated and consistent practice. Specifically, writing down three things that one is grateful for several times a week can produce health benefits. It is important to identify different sources of gratitude and include specific details. Some examples might include statements such as:
- “I am grateful to you for helping me finish this difficult project when you already had so much to do.”
- “I appreciate that you always take the time to listen when I need you.”
- “I am grateful for the birds that flock at our window feeders and have added joy for the past year when we have been more confined at home.”
The practice of gratitude extends beyond the recognition of what we are grateful for. It also includes the expression of this to either ourselves or others. While it is probably quite common to silently acknowledge a positive event or a trait in someone we care about, it is less frequent to put this into action. I am very fortunate to have a group of friends who have stayed connected over the past year. We have talked, walked, gardened, exchanged recipes, laughed and cried. For Valentine’s Day, I wrote them all gratitude notes. As I thought of specific attributes in each person, there were emotional moments. It was a heart-warming task, and I hope it brings enjoyment to them as well. In a sense, the true impact of gratitude comes when we let ourselves feel the vulnerability of letting others know what we love about them. We all struggle with opening up our hearts to others and many of us avoid these opportunities as it can come with uncomfortable feelings. The risk is worth it, and the impact can be widespread.