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The Health Benefits of Gratitude

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Written by Mary Haggerty

Being grateful is generally agreed upon as a positive state. It is a virtue in most major religions, and considered good manners show appreciation in many cultures. And now, science is backing up these social norms. It isn’t just a nice thing to do for others, gratitude actually benefits us immensely. Studies are showing that there are many health benefits, emotionally and physically.

According to Amy Morin in Psychology Today, gratitude opens the door to more relationships, improves physical health, improves psychological health, enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Gratitude helps us sleep better, have more self- esteem and increases mental strength. There doesn’t seem to be much gratitude can’t do.However, it isn’t always easy to be grateful for our situations. There are many trying times in life where gratefulness doesn’t happen organically. The good news is there are ways to increase our levels of gratitude, and therefore health, and they are pretty simple.

The first and probably most well-known way is expressing your gratitude to someone. Whether it is a thank you letter for something specific, a verbal expression of general appreciation or a heartfelt hug, letting someone in your life know that you appreciate them will leave you both feeling good. Another great method that you can try by yourself is taking the time to write a few times a week in a gratitude journal. Reflecting on the things we are grateful for can make it easier to deal with the negative. Once you have written for a little while, rereading what you wrote is a great way to make a bad day a little brighter.

A third method that utilizes no supplies, all you need is you and your breath. Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful way to check in and connect with your body. Our bodies do so much for us every day but because we are so used to them it is easy to forget about. Being with your body and feeling your breath for even just five minutes a day is a great way to increase gratitude for existence and cultivate a peaceful mind. Changes within become changes around us, so try to take some time today to think about what you’re grateful for. Even if it’s just this breath.

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