Daily gratitude results in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness, energy, and sleep duration and quality. Grateful people also report lower levels of depression and stress, yet gratitude isn’t very high on most peoples lists of things to attend to daily.

There is a complex relationship between thoughts, moods, brain chemistry, endocrine function, and functioning of other physiological systems in our bodies. Suffice it to say that our thoughts can actually trigger physiological changes in our body that affect our mental and physical health. Basically, what you think affects how you feel (both emotionally and physically). So if you increase your positive thoughts, like gratitude, you can increase your subjective sense of well-being.

There are some very simple ways to increase your experience and expression of gratitude. Increasing our conscious awareness of gratitude may require that we train ourselves to think differently. This can be done by incorporating a gratitude journal, to simply write down one thing that you are grateful for each day.

Alternatively (or additionally), you can speak your expressions of gratitude. You can engage a friend or romantic partner in a daily discussion about what you are grateful for. This kind of discussion not only helps to increase your own awareness of all that you have to be grateful for, but can also promote positive connection and experiences in your relationships. Basically, gratitude promotes gratitude.

If you find that you’re very busy and unable to stick to a regular gratitude practice, see if you can train yourself to notice things, in the moment, that you are thankful for. They can be small things: maybe you notice that your bed is very comfortable, that your lunch is tasty, that a good friend said something nice to you, etc. It is easy to take these kinds of experiences for granted and not direct our conscious awareness to them. But training yourself to notice these kinds of things and really feel grateful for them can help increase your own experience of happiness.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

Peace and Love, Jim

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