What Exactly is Gratitude?
The National Institute of Health defines gratitude as having appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself; a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation. The practice of gratitude reminds us of the miracles which unfold in our lives everyday. It grounds us in the present moment and supports us in cultivating positive perspective. Cultivating this sense of appreciation or thankfulness can be done in many ways, one no better than the other. One must simply find the practice which works best for them.
How Does This Support Well Being?
Studies done on the brain activity of those practicing meditations on gratitude were observed as having high levels of hypothalamus activity. The hypothalamus controls stress levels, metabolism, sleep cycles, and emotional stability (Spiegelman, 83-84). The combination of stress reduction, improved sleep, and ability to regulate emotions and feelings naturally lead one to experience more happiness, health, and general well being.
Gratitude A-Z is a fun way to begin the practice of cultivating gratitude or thankfulness. When I became aware of this practice I immediately remembered the long (oh so long!) road trips I took as a child, traveling from Oklahoma to Florida, Colorado, and Montana. The first two hours on the road usually consisted of mixed tapes or CDs, followed by conversation, eventually running out of things to say. This meant we had to get creative, playing A-Z games with licence plates and road signs, lightening up the mood in the eleventh hour of travel, quite literally.
Gratitude A-Z is similar. All one must do is list something (person, place, thing, feeling, moment) which begins with the first letter of the alphabet, continuing until 26 items have been identified. I found it easiest to write the letters in order on a piece of paper, then fill them out one by one (admittedly out of order). Whether done on a piece of paper or making a mental list, the idea is that you are becoming aware of the miracles which surround you and naming them specifically.
Create your list today and share it in the comments section below or send it to me directly using my Contact Me page.
Spiegelman, Erica. “Chapter 8.” Rewired: A Bold New Approach to Addiction and Recovery. United States: Hatherleigh, 2015. 83-84. Print.