Monday November 19, 2018
How many times have you heard your parents or grandparents say: “Count your blessings.” or “Be grateful for what you have in front of you.”? Science is demonstrating health and well-being benefits that go along with the elder wisdom of appreciation.
If you’re curious about why being grateful is a good idea, Dr. Robert A. Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, offers the following statistics:
- Keeping a gratitude diary for two weeks produced a sustained reduction in perceived stress (28 percent) and depression (16 percent) in a study with healthcare workers
- Gratitude is related to 23 percent lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol
- 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
Gratitude brings our attention to recognize a gift of goodness outside of ourselves that connects us in a heart-centered way to others. It recognizes a gift, freely given that was not earned or something to which we are entitled. When we feel grateful it takes us out of the mind’s self-centered focus and brings us into the heart’s space of appreciation.
For thirty years, the Heart Math Institute has been studying the effects of gratitude and love on heart rate variability, a critical factor in health, and its relationship to the brain. Gratitude synchronizes the heart and brain into coherence measurable in EKG’s that improves heart rate variability, resiliency, and health.
As we enter the season of Thanksgiving and Love that is engulfed in the sea of stress and holiday pressures to overspend and over-commit, I offer you this gift. Every day between now and the new year I invite you to ground yourself by looking for, feeling, and acknowledging the moments, people, and blessings for which you are grateful, and to remember your elders who measured through their hearts the blessings of gratitude.
Happy Thanksgiving, Kathleen