The word gratitude is describe in the dictionary as “ the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful” and is derived from the Latin word “gratia.” Over the past few years practicing gratitude has become increasingly popular. In particular, shows such as Dr. Oz and Oprah have featured and discussed the power of gratitude. Dr. Andrew Weil is an accomplished doctor specializing in holistic health who has written a book on emotional well-being called “Spontaneous Happiness.” Dr. Weil’s approach to health encompasses body, mind and spirit. He believes that the body can innately heal itself when body, mind and spirit are in balance. In Dr. Weil’s book “Spontaneous Happiness,” he discusses techniques, like practicing gratitude to achieve emotional well-being.There is strong evidence in positive psychology research supporting Dr. Weil’s recommendations. Within the literature, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness and better mental health. Gratitude has been shown to boost mood, help people relish good experiences, improve health, deal with adversity and build strong relationships. Additionally, gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders.
There are two aspects to gratitude; feeling grateful and expressing it. An easy was to practice gratitude is to write everything you are grateful for on one particular day, in a journal at night. Research suggests that gratitude journaling for as little as one week, can subsequently boost mood for six months! For example, a mother name Em who suffers from postpartum depression shares her story about gratitude journaling …
“I have been keeping a gratitude journal for the past 2 weeks and can confirm that I really do feel better about things. Anytime I feel like a rubbish parent who never does anything nice for the kids I can flick through and read about the play dates, trips out, nature walks and lovely muffin tin lunches I’ve made for them and realize that I’m just being daft. I am quite a visual person so keep a basic written gratitude journal with everything we do daily and then at the end of the week print off photos and make a photo based gratitude journal for the week. I like the fact that the photos show all the little details that may not make it into the written journal; the crazy outfit Annie dressed herself in, or the sight of Ez with only one top tooth. I am determined to get past my depression without having to go back on medication and I firmly believe that using a gratitude journal will play a big part in helping me achieve this.”
Dr. Weill suggests that gratitude has the power to spontaneously catalyze healing within the body because it balances our emotional well-being. Open up a journal to a blank page and write at least 5 things you are grateful for today before you go to bed! In the morning, start your day by reading what you wrote the night before. Try gratitude journaling and improve your emotional well-being! Happy writing! Below are the links to the Oprah and Dr. Oz show discussing gratitude journaling.
Sandage, S. J., Hill, P. C., & Vaubel, D. C. (2011). Generativity, relational spirituality, gratitude, and mental health: Relationships and pathways. International Journal For The Psychology Of Religion, 21(1), 1-16. doi:10.1080/10508619.2011.532439
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