Gratitude: This is so simple and will keep you from getting sick

There is a scientifically proven attitude that will:  

  • Strengthen your immune system (say yes to getting sick less!)
  • Lower your blood pressure
  • Reduce frequency and duration of depression
  • Help you sleep better

Yes, you can get all of these incredible health benefits with just a shift in attitude.  And someone has scientifically proven this. 

Since making this attitude a greater part of who I am, I have gone almost 4 years with just one incident of getting sick.  

What is this attitude? Gratitude.

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. is a professor at University of California, Davis and the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude.  He is the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology and has spent years studying thousands of people and the effect that gratitude has on them.  

Aside from the above, he has also found that gratitude:

  • Reduces pain in the body
  • Combats loneliness
  • Increases our levels of happiness, optimism, joy and pleasure (who doesn’t want more of this?)
  • Helps us be more forgiving
  • Motivates us to take better care of your health and exercise more

These findings are incredible, especially since it costs nothing to experience these health benefits.

What is gratitude?

I love Emmons definition of gratitude.  He explains:

“Gratitude is an affirmation that we have received good things. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore burdens. But gratitude looks at life as a whole and encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our lives.”

Gratitude is the identification and affirmation of something good in our lives.  And hence why:

Gratitude is an attitude

It goes past having just some grateful thoughts, it’s a way of being and living life.  It is an attitude we choose to take on and nurture.  

Why gratitude is good

Emmons has found that gratitude has these transformative effects for a few reasons…Here are three I found very interesting:

  1. Gratitude blocks toxics, negative emotions such as envy, resentment, and regret. These emotions can destroy our happiness, so blocking them is a must.  Here’s why:
    1. You cannot feel envious and grateful at the same time
    2. You cannot feel resentful and grateful at the same time
    3. These emotions are incompatible feelings; choosing gratitude blocks the other one.
  2. Grateful people are more stress resistant.  Studies are showing that in the face of serious adversity and trauma, grateful people recover more quickly.

  3. Grateful people have a higher sense of self-worth. Self-worth is crucial and I recently wrote about it here.  It is foundational to our lives and our happiness.  

Gratitude as an Attitude

Given that gratitude is an attitude, a way of being and living life, how can we integrate it into our day to day so we can reap the incredible benefits above?

Here are the ways that I have found to be most effective:

1. Meditate on gratitude.

This is by far the most effective way I have found to cultivate gratitude. In the past, I have written about the incredible benefits of meditation that I have experienced, which you can find here. Scientific research is also proving the benefits of this practice, which I will share with you all soon. In the meantime, I would like to share with you this wonderful guided meditation on gratitude. I am certain that you will love it and that it will help you exponentially cultivate gratitude in your life.

2. Start a gratitude journal.

I wrote about this beautiful practice a couple of years ago. Keep a journal by your bed and each evening (or every morning upon waking up, whatever is best for you) write 5-10 things you are grateful for. After doing this every single day for a period of time, you will be amazed at how your life will change.

3. Carry something that reminds you to be grateful.

Emmons states that one of the obstacles to gratefulness is forgetfulness.  I have a bracelet that I wear every day and that constantly reminds me to be grateful.  Check it out to the right!  Every time I look at my hand (which happens multiple times in a day), I think of something I am grateful for.

4. Create a gratitude practice with your family.  

Every day my husband and I take our dog on a walk.  On the walk, we offer 2 things we appreciate about each other (our “appreciations”).  They are pretty simple; for example I recently told my husband I appreciated how he drove to get our take-out dinner while I stayed home watching TV.  Try some version of this in your own way with your family.

5. Start with the most basic

Sometimes it’s hard to just step into gratitude.  I get it: too many bad days in a row.  When this happens to me, I go down to the most basic.  “I can see”, “I can walk”, “I ate something today”, “I can take a warm bath”.  Remember, 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day; the fact that you are able to read this email is a blessing.

6. Recite gratitude affirmations or prayers.

This is a recent practice in my life.  For those times when you want to be grateful but don’t have the right words, turn towards reciting affirmations and prayers that have existed for years…they won’t let you down.

 Gratitude Quotes, Affirmations, and Prayers

Here are my favorite gratitude quotes, affirmations, and prayers that I have come across throughout the years.  Keep these easily accessible, so that on those days when you are feeling low you have the support you need.

“I opened two gifts this morning. They were my eyes”

 “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change”

“Talk about your blessings more than you talk about your burdens”

“The worst person to be around is someone who complains about everything and appreciates nothing”

“Everything is beautiful when you stop looking for flaws”

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and Wisdom to know the difference”

What can YOU do TODAY?

1. Do this guided meditation as soon as possible…It is less than 5 minutes in length and the benefits will blow you away.  They always do for me!

2. Write down 5 things you are grateful for right now.  Start doing this every night or every morning, just make sure you are doing it daily.

3. Pick your favorite gratitude quote or prayer and write a note to yourself in your phone.  Look at it when you are feeling down as extra support during these times. 

Let me know how it goes!  I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or question below.  If you enjoyed this post, I would be honored if you share it with your friends, family, and community.