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What's The Buzz With Gratitude

Gratitude is defined as the state of being grateful or thankful. Each day we are blessed with 86,400 seconds. How many of those do you use to say "thank you"?

Recent studies have concluded that gratitude can have profound positive effects on dietary behaviors, exercise, relationships and health.

“The practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis and a leading scientific expert on the science of gratitude.

In one study on gratitude, conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., at the University of California at Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, randomly assigned participants were split into 2 groups (gratitude vs. hassled group). After 10-weeks, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were 25 percent happier than the hassled group.

Studies have also shown:

Gratitude is related to 23 percent lower levels of stress hormones(cortisol).Two gratitude activities (counting blessings and gratitude letter writing)reduced the risk of depression in at-risk patients by 41 percent over a six month period.Dietary fat intake is reduced by as much as 25 percent when people are keeping a gratitude journal.Grateful people have 16 percent lower diastolic blood pressure and 10 percent lower systolic blood pressure compared to those less grateful.Gratitude is related to a 10 percent improvement in sleep quality in patients with chronic pain, 76 percent of whom had insomnia, and 19 percent lower depression levels.

Neuroscience is revealing how gratitude changes the brain. According to UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, regularly expressing gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, supports gray matter in functioning optimally, and keeps us healthier and happier.

Spiritually, gratitude increases our positive energy and fosters a deeper connection with others. When we are thankful for the many blessings in our lives, it improves the quality of our lives, sparks inspiration, sustains emotional balance and decreases fear and irritation

Here are 6 ways you can incorporate gratitude into your daily life to heal and strengthen your heart:

1. Make a vow to practice gratitude.  Setting the intention to incorporate gratitude into your life is the first step toward consistent practice. 

2. Create a morning ritual by placing both hands over your heart to say a thank you prayer before starting your day 

3. Learn prayers of gratitude. These prayers are considered the most powerful form of prayer amongst many spiritual traditions.

4. Keep a gratitude list or journal of the things you are thankful for. They have been shown to help you stay focused on the positive things in life. 

5. Show appreciation by saying thank you to your spouse, partner, children, friend or family member...for no reason.

6. Look in the mirror daily and thank yourself.  Say at least one thing you like or appreciate about YOU. 

Take some time today to count your blessings so you can begin with a calmer brain, more relaxed nervous system and mindfulness of the abundance of life.

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