Gratitude and Science

Gratitude and Science

Our emotions are powerful enough to cause real change in our body’s physiology. It is not the thoughts but the reaction to the thoughts -those emotions that arise from the thoughts -that affects us and people around us. Emotions affect our neuro endocrine (brain and hormonal systems) system that in turn affects our physical, psychological, and social being. When brain, heart, and neuro endocrine system are in coherence, this actually enhances the body’s ability to clarify our thoughts and affect our emotion. Practice of gratitude allows us to put neuro endocrine and heart system in coherence.

Gratitude is affirmation of goodness in life. It does not mean life is perfect and without burdens. Gratitude also means to find out where the goodness is coming from and who one can be thankful to for that.
Robert A Emmons PhD, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis says, gratitude has power to heal, energize and change lives. It can heal from past hurts; gives hope and inspiration for future. It helps in turning mind from a focusing on what is lacking to what we have.

When he studied 1000 people, who practiced gratitude daily for 3 weeks they reported great deal of benefits.

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Short form of thanks is good gesture, but looking at life situation rom gratefulness and with gratitude is very powerful. One should put gratitude on line of continuum
From habit of saying thank you to deeper orientation of genuine feeling of gratitude towards life.

Regular practice of gratitude enhances power of looking at goodness in all situations.
–It makes one more stress resilient.
–It strengthens social ties and self-worth. One realizes past and present network of relations that have played a part in getting one where they are. One may have taken them for granted but not anymore.
–It makes to look at life as a satisfied person and not deprived
–It allows one to have appreciation and celebration of present.
–Blocks toxic emotions like envy, resentment, depression. Toxic emotions can destroy opportunity for happiness, calm peaceful life, and optimal functioning.

Gratitude is not another form of positive thinking. In gratitude one actually recognizes one’s dependence on others. To practice gratitude one has to be a good receive (of other people’s good actions) . Gratitude comes with obligation and responsibility

Gratitude does not make people complacent or passive and not motivated. Research has shown that people who practiced gratitude regularly feel well, are happy and are more motivated to succeed, are more productive and make progress.

To practice gratitude one has to make an conscious effort. It does not come easily. We are not all abstract thinkers, so visual reminders that make us aware of creating a mindset of feeling grateful about our lives is needed. As for example, have visual of some pictures that have a specific meaning to you, or have a jar labeled “gratitude jar” in your eyesight. Practicing gratitude for few weeks can slowly become a second nature.

I invite you to write daily in your gratitude journal, brief reflection of moments for which you are thankful for, what you received and who was the giver of that action. I invite you to embrace this practice in your daily life and begin to heal yourself and radiate gratefulness to all those around you.

Author: Rekha Shah

Dr Shah practices Functional & Integrative medicine. She is Board certified by American Board of Medical Specialists in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology. She is also a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.

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