Gratitude has health benefits

Sunset in the Arizona desert.

I started an evening gratitude journal, which includes an exercise known as “Three Blessings.” Every evening, I write three things I’m thankful for that happened during the day. They may be little things, like something beautiful I saw on a walk, or bigger like a new writing job referral. Then after each, I explain why the moment happened. It’s an exercise I learned about from a book called “Flourish” by Martin E.P. Seligman. In his book, Seligman said that this exercise has been proven to be just as effective as taking anti-depressants in fighting depression! I find it as a nice way to get grounded after a busy day and reflect on everything that is going well.

Unfortunately I’m not consistent with the gratitude journal. I’ll start it up for several weeks, and it goes by the wayside.

I didn’t realize how many benefits being grateful brings to your life until I read “Gratitude yields health and social benefits” by Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman in the Sarasota Herald Tribune.

Here’s what they had to say in an article published in December 2018. Even though it’s dated, it has some good stuff in it.

Positive emotions such as gratitude open our minds.

With Thanksgiving having passed, we may want a jump start on our New Year’s resolutions. Research shows such a long list of health and social benefits that families might want to focus on cultivating an attitude of gratitude all year long.

Researchers at Northeastern University found that grateful people are more likely to be patient and make wiser decisions.

Gratitude also makes us more likely to take better care of ourselves. In one psychology journal, a study showed that a grateful attitude correlated to a greater willingness to eat healthier foods, exercise more and go to the doctor. Some research even shows that being appreciative boosts willpower.

Counting our blessings before bedtime can also translate to better sleep. One researcher said it may help soothe the nervous system. Not only can gratitude improve our quality of sleep, it can also help us fall asleep faster and sleep longer.

The health benefits of gratitude can’t be overstated. It’s been shown to decrease physical pain, reduce symptoms associated with depression, decrease blood pressure and boost energy levels. In fact, simply cultivating a lifestyle of gratitude can add an average of seven years to your lifespan.

Being grateful also makes us more resilient, less envious, more optimistic, kinder and more social. It’s no wonder that the more grateful a person is, the more likely the person is to have strong social connections, healthier marriages, larger friendship circles and improved networking skills.

Not only does gratitude have the power to transform our health, our social lives and our careers, it can transform our personalities. Research shows that gratitude contributes to a wide range of positive character traits. It makes us humble and it makes us more generous. Together, these traits combat entitlement and self-centeredness. Grateful people are more willing and able to focus on others and can therefore contribute more broadly to their communities.

We the parents have both the opportunity and the obligation to raise children who will have a positive and transformative effect on the future. As we focus on grooming an attitude of gratitude in our kids, we are not only improving their own quality of life but we are helping to change the world one child at a time.

I do believe it’s our duty as parents to instill gratitude as a trait our kids should embrace. One way is to start a gratitude journal. Another tip is to ask your children to name three things they’re grateful for. In the book I’m reading called “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance” by Julia Cameron, has exercises to list 10 things you cherish. Another day there I was asked to write 10 things I’m thankful for. It’s not a bad thing to do. Reading about the benefits of gratitude makes me want to be more consistent with my journaling.

As parents, I think we need to let our kids and family know how much they mean to us. How grateful we are to have them in our lives.

What are you most grateful for in your life? I’m grateful for my family, friends and the pets and beauty surrounding me. I’m grateful for my new blogging friends.

Striving for an attitude of gratitude

I woke up the other morning thinking I was in my old Palm Springs home. Have you ever woken up not sure where you are? It happened frequently when we first moved to Arizona but it hasn’t happened to me for months. But, I started to miss my old Spanish Colonial home that day. It was a very pretty and unique home. Filled with memories.

A view from the kitchen to the living room of our old house. The mirror is now in our master bedroom.

It had a good location, too. So why did we move? For many reasons. Although I loved living downtown Palm Springs, we were right behind a hotel. We constantly had to call the ABC or police when the hotel violated their restrictions on noise. Living next to a busy hotel when they violate their liquor license with outdoor amplified music in the middle of the night wasn’t fun. During 2020 the hotel closed. I’m glad we sold the house before it reopened.

rustic small kitchen

The house was stunning, but not that practical. The kitchen was tiny. We called it a one-butt kitchen, but it worked. I could unload the dishwasher, cook and open the fridge without taking a step. I’d rotate in place. I had more than one friend ask me how I dealt with such a tiny kitchen.

master bedroom with open tub and pillars
The master bedroom of our old home.

Some of the things I didn’t like about the house was it had a carport, not a garage. The carport flooded every time it rained. It also got dusty and dirty, because the desert is dusty and dirty.

Another thing I didn’t like was the lack of storage because the house was built in the 1930s. Also, it was so cold in the winter that my fingers would go numb. And don’t get me started on the four-digit electric bill in the summer.

Another thing I don’t miss is the homeless man who peaked through our bedroom windows and slept in our yard. He terrified me. I’d spot him on our cameras every time we left town. He was watching us. I’d leave for my walk and return to find him in our yard.

Spanish colonial Movie Colony home.
View of our old home.

But we have tons of good memories. We raised our family for more than 28 years in that home. Yes, I’ll miss it even though our new house is so much more practical and less expensive to live in. My husband would like the ability to retire someday. Arizona makes that possible. I also feel like I’m living in luxury with a real garage and a kitchen with more cupboards than I can fill.

So I am grateful to be in Arizona. And I’m thankful for my friends, my cat and my family. You see, I’m practicing more gratitude. I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m going to start my gratitude journal and practice the three blessings before I go to bed at night.

The Three Blessings Exercise

This exercise was created by Dr. Martin Seligman and it is extremely easy to follow:

Before going to sleep every night, write down three things that went well that day. They don’t need to be big things. They can be little things that made you happy or that made you smile, or simply that had a positive impact on you. Then write why they went well.

By doing so you focus on the positive aspects of your day instead of the negatives. After a while, it becomes a habit and your mind gets wired to have a more optimistic approach to your daily life. Studies show that after months of doing this exercise, your well-being increases and you feel overall more optimistic.

http://warriorsnotworriers.com/three-blessings-well-being/
I have attempted to do this exercise in the past, but then I forget about it. I think it’s time to get back to it.
sunset view from the Old Movie Colony.
View at sunset from our old backyard.

What are you thankful for as we begin the Fourth of July weekend?