This year I challenged myself to have 30 days of gratitude. What I found was that taking the time each day to think about what I was thankful for made me a much happier person. Here are 10 reasons how 30 days of gratitude changed my life.
One reason for doing this challenge was this pessimistic feeling that I could not shake. I was the person who always saw the glass as half empty. This in turn fed into my insecurity and longing for things I didn’t have. It also had a large bearing on how I felt about myself and my happiness.
For a large portion of my adult life I was depressed, unhappy, and constantly complaining about things. It was not until I shifted my perspective that I realized how much I truly had.
What opened my eyes were thankfulness and gratitude. Thanks to my sister Suzanne I was introduced to this concept when she gave me Jack Canfield’s Key to Living the Law of Attraction: A Simple Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams. Reading this book changed my life and made me see the error of my ways. I had the power to move my life in the direction I wanted it to go. I just needed to widen my view of the world.
At first, going from a negative to a positive was quite difficult. It took a good couple of months for me to finally get to that point where I started to feel better. Just like exercising your body, having a positive attitude took practice and determination. It is like cardio for your brain.
I have been practicing this on and off over the past six years and it has changed my life for the better. It helped me realize my true passion in life. I was able to find a new career and work towards starting my own business.
I still have times where I get the blues and this past year was one of those times. I’ve been trying to step back and think about all the great stuff I have in my life. This helps to put things into perspective. It also teaches me to look at things in a different light.
There is a great story about Thomas Edison and how he had 1,000 failed attempts before he created the lightbulb. So before you want to give up on something try to find another way to achieve your goals.
Creating a positive mindset changed my life and I know it will help you too. Read on to learn the 10 ways that gratitude and thankfulness will improve your life.
1. You will be happier
Research shows a correlation with improved mood when practicing gratitude on a daily basis over a two-week period according to psychology experts Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami.
2. Your health will improve
Giving thanks is not just good for your mood but also can physically improve your body. Clinical trials indicated that gratitude can have amazing effects on a person’s health condition. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease heart disease, and improve immunity, Deepak Chapra (has also illustrated this in his Gratitude study.
Patients who wrote down three things they were grateful every day for a period of eight weeks showed reductions in inflammation markers. An increase in heart rate invariability was also seen among patients. This indicates a reduction in cardiac risk. So the more grateful your heart is the healthier it will be.
3. You will sleep better
Constant negative thoughts will keep your brain racing at night preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. Like with physical health gratitude practices will improve your sleep patterns. A group study of those with neuromuscular disorders felt more refreshed after three weeks of writing a gratitude list before hitting the pillow.
Other research out the University of Manchester in England studied a sample of 400 adults, 40 percent of whom had sleep disorders. Participants with positive and gracious thoughts at bedtime were able to fall asleep faster with better quality sleep than those who did not journal.
The higher your levels of gratitude the better you will rest. So write down three things you are grateful for before you hit the sheets.
4. Your energy levels will improve
With a better mood, comes better health and more energy. A study of 238 people showed a correlation between vitality and gratitude. Think about when you are open to possibilities and fully present in the moment. Your energy levels are soaring and you have the ability to do the tasks you want to accomplish.
Practicing gratitude improves your energy level and gives you more vigor.
5. Your stress levels will decline
Keeping positive by focusing on things that are going well in your life will help you deal better with chronic trauma and stress. A 2006 study in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans who had expressed higher levels of gratitude experienced less post-traumatic stress.
6. You will have better relationships
Being thankful to those around you will help foster your people skills and show your appreciation. Others will notice your gratitude and in turn, want to pursue a relationship with you. Those who practice gratitude have tended to be less narcissistic thinking more about helping others.
Your partner will also feel more satisfied with the relationship when gratitude is given in daily interactions according to a 2011 study.
7. You will have less depression and anxiety
Science tells us that exercises changing our focus from negative to positive will produce dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin in the brain. These feel-good hormones will put you in a better mood. I can tell you firsthand that practicing gratitude will help keep those feelings of depression and anxiety at bay.
I am a negative person at the core and still sometimes experience sadness creeping in. I stop and take three seconds to tell myself this is only a feeling and I have the power to change how I react. I also try to focus on something that has gone well that day or week to keep my spirits up.
8. You will be better in a crisis
When times are good you may take things for granted. Then when times are rough and we don’t know what is gonna happen we begin to take stock in everything we are thankful for. To the same extent remembering the bad will make you thankful for the good.
People have a better time recovering from traumatic events when they practice gratitude. Being thankful for all you have will help you overcome even the most traumatic events as seen in those involved in the September 11th attacks according to a 2003 study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
9. You will feel your life will have purpose
For me having gratitude opened up a world of opportunity that I did not see before. You gain the strength and power to try new things and figure out what you like and don’t like. Being grateful helps you find the person you want to be.
When you open your mind to thankfulness you have an abundance that will propel you forward. Having gratitude also helps to foster a sense of self.
10. It physically changes your brain for the better
A study out of Indiana University led by Prathik Kini showed a particular pattern in the brain scan of those who practiced gratitude. It consisted of 43 individuals suffering from anxiety or depression. Half of the subjects were asked to write a letter of thanks to various people in their lives.
Three months later they all went under a brain scan in which they were asked if someone gave them an inheritance would they like to donate part of it to a charity. Those who said yes all exhibited a particular brain scan pattern. They also noted they felt more thankful two weeks after the test. These findings show how exercising your gratitude muscle will help to improve the health of your brain today and in years to come.