Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

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Monday Morning Acu-Minute by Karen Johnson

According to the field of “Positive Psychology,” the scientific study of emotions such as gratitude, optimism, forgiveness, happiness, compassion and altruism — and the conscious cultivation of these emotions — fortifies us during times of adversity, leading to greater happiness and resilience. Of all the attributes one can develop, however, gratitude is most strongly associated with positive mental health.

Gratitude relates to our ability to feel and express thankfulness and appreciation.

Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude has been shown to improve physical, emotional, and social well-being, create a greater sense of optimism and happiness, improve feelings of connection in times of loss or crises, increase self-esteem, improve energy levels, expand the capacity for forgiveness, decrease stress, anxiety, depression and headaches, improve self-care and heighten spirituality, or the ability to see something bigger than ourselves.

How can we cultivate gratitude?

  • Keep a gratitude journal by your bedside and each night list 3-5 positive experiences from the day. Examples can include noticing something in nature, focusing on an object of beauty, a pleasant conversation, a good cup of coffee or helping someone with a problem.
  • Take a few deep breaths to be grounded, present, mindful.
  • Say thank you often — particularly to those who serve you.
  • Linger on thoughts of positive moments from the day.
  • Write down a letter of thanks to someone who has made a difference in your life — give it to them, in person if possible.
  • Practice not gossiping, complaining or judging for a day.
  • Express or show gratitude to your partner.
  • Think about what you are grateful for each morning.
  • Take a few minutes to do a gratitude meditation, such as this one…

Gratitude Meditation

  • Get into a comfortable seated position.
  • Relax with eyes closed and feel grounded, seated in your chair.
  • Take a few abdominal breaths, relaxing the mind and body.
  • When relaxed we are most open to suggestions.
  • Think about “What am I really grateful for?”
  • Take whatever comes to mind first and build on that thought.
  • Expand upon the story of this positive experience or memory.
  • Savor this experience and allow it to sink into the recesses of mind and body.
  • Intensify this feeling even further by vividly visualizing this memory.
  • Keep that experience in mind longer than usual to deeply embed positivity into the brain.

This Acu-Minute has been adapted from an article by By Dr. Randy Kamen

Earth for All Ages

As an avid supporter of all things ecological and sustainability-oriented, and based on my desire to be more proactive in this direction, I created another blog called Earth For All Ages. This weekly publication focuses on choices we can make, using our individual “Power of One” to benefit ourselves while protecting the planet. My trip to Cancun renewed my commitment to this work.
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