The subject of this week's post is one of my favorites. Doing 'more of' this not only benefits you, but also benefits the people around you. It's easy to do, costs nothing and takes up very little of your precious time. It nourishes you in a way that food does not, because it affects all parts of you: your mind, body and soul. Any guesses?
The next way to feel great in your body, regardless of your eating plan, is to...
#6: APPRECIATE MORE
Appreciation, and its sister quality gratitude, are two of the quickest practices to turn a bad day around. Since way back in history, philosophers and religious leaders have encouraged their followers to "be grateful." In the last few decades, positive psychologists have discovered the many benefits of practicing gratitude. In fact, it is so frequently recommended in pop culture today, that I've noticed some not so well disguised eye rolling when the word is mentioned. But there is good reason for it's widespread endorsement. It is indeed a powerful way to improve a person's general outlook, sense of well-being and health.
According to Psychology Today, being grateful activates two separate regions of the brain: the hypothalamus, which regulates eating, sleeping, and greatly influences stress levels, and two other regions of the brain associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a role in the brain's reward system and produces feelings of pleasure. So there is truly a chemical reaction in your body that helps you feel happier by being grateful! Expressing gratitude has been proven to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, reduce blood pressure, increase optimism and decrease depression. And when your appreciation of another is actually communicated to them, it is equally beneficial to both the giver and the receiver.
In my coaching practice, I have seen that being grateful and expressing appreciation dramatically improves clients' attitudes toward themselves, their families and their current life situations. By continuing to notice the positive things around you, a ripple of positive energy is created. It's been said that where you place your attention "grows". As your attention to the positive continues, you notice more and more things to be grateful for. And as it blossoms, it positively affects the people around you too.
Ways To Cultivate Gratitude In Your Life
There are many ways to begin to cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" in your own life. A great way to get started is by simply noticing positive things around you that perhaps you've taken for granted. A beautiful day, the happiness of a child, experiencing a good deed or an act of kindness; these are everyday occurrences that can easily be "missed" as you rush through your routine. Further, our brains are actually hardwired to immediately recognize any potential danger or problem looming (part of a human survival mechanism), but does not immediately register the smaller, sweet moments and everyday beauty of the world around us. It is, however, possible to override this negativity bias by intentionally recognizing and noting the positive moments in your everyday life.
Here are a few additional simple practices that can help you begin to reap the benefits of gratitude:
How Gratitude Benefits Weight Loss and Well-Being
Interestingly, people fostering gratitude were more likely to take better care of themselves overall when compared to people who did not have a gratitude practice in place. Positive psychologists state that gratitude provides benefits to people in five major life categories: emotional, social, personality, career, and health. Focusing on the health-related benefits, you can see that gratitude has a strong positive impact on well-being and even weight loss. Here's why you may want to begin your practice today:
So take a look around you and notice the people, places and things that light you up! Although your brain may initially lead you to notice what's not going well, you can override that negativity bias by developing a consistent practice of being grateful for what is going well. If you truly appreciate the gifts that your life provides, you will be a happier and healthier person in the long run.
In Good Health,