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Attitude of Gratitude

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” —Oprah Winfrey

Although I woke up today having slept very poorly and I have two hips that are a tad achy and two ears that are hurting from a sinus infection AND I have a long drive on Monday with a much longer contentious meeting on Tuesday, I am grateful!

Hopeful Hippie, that does not sound logical or believable! You have two ear infections, a sinus infection and your hips are achy, and you have to be somewhere on Monday and you are grateful? What is wrong with you and what are you drinking?

Well, to be honest, I’m drinking lemonade from the lemons that I have with my glass that is half full. My reason – what is the alternative? To feel sorry for myself? To weigh my body down with more negative energy? To breathe in pity and breathe away good health?

I am breathing in thankfulness and breathing out gratitude. And the science behind my philosophy backs my attitude up! So there, Negative Hippie!

One study involved the use of functional MRI (fMRI) and the “study found that people who more readily experience gratitude have more gray matter in their right inferior temporal cortex, an area previously linked to interpreting other people’s intentions (Zahn, Garrido, Moll, & Grafman, 2014). When you have the ability to interpret social interactions and other’s intentions, I believe you are able to then trust – not only your healthcare team, but your gut instincts and even your own body’s ability to heal.

In 2010, there was a literature review that looked at many studies and how gratitude was linked to improved health. Having higher levels of gratitude also has been linked to better outcomes after heart attack (Millstein et al., 2016). Chronic pain patients (which many of us hippies could be considered) have less anxiety and depression, according to another study (M.-Y. Ng & Wong, 2013). A third study showed that keeping a gratitude journal for heart failure patients actually reduced their inflammatory biomarkers. (Redwine et al., 2016). A study by Emmons and McCullough (2003) showed that people that kept a gratitude journal were measurably more optimistic. So what does this mean for you?

It means better relationships, better health, better outcomes. So here are some ways to grow your gratitude from Alissa Sauer:

  • Write in a gratitude journal daily

  • Thank at least one person every day

  • Replace “sorry” with “thank you” (i.e. “thank you for waiting for me” instead of “sorry I am late”)

  • Call someone to say “thank you”

  • Write a thank you note

  • Make a meal for a friend or neighbor

  • Give compliments freely

  • Memorize a quote about gratitude each month and meditate on it daily

  • Focus on your own strengths and the strengths of others

  • Don’t run from challenges but see them as an opportunity to grow

  • Look for ways to perform random acts of kindness

So how are you going to take advantage of gratitude and its physical and emotional health benefits? What is your level of gratitude on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest)? How can you improve your level? How does it translate to your health and your optimistic Hopeful Hippie outlook? Even more important, how are you going to cultivate gratitude? Look in the mirror and say, "Today, I will have an attitude of gratitude!"

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