Gratitude is one of the most powerful energies and emotional states we can experience. It makes the heart swell with joy and causes healthy "happy chemicals" like dopamine and serotonin to flood the bloodstream. If you're feeling grateful for a person or relationship, pleasant waves of oxytocin (or "the bonding hormone") also surge into your system. Some of the specific benefits of gratitude and appreciation include:
Better mood and outlook
Gratitude puts a positive spin on things in life and sees the glass as half-full.
People who feel appreciated tend to be more loving and pleasant to be around. The quality of relationships is greatly enhanced when we're grateful, especially when both partners make it a practice.
Stronger immune system
Studies have shown that those with a positive outlook tend to have stronger immune systems than those who are prone to pessimism.
One of the major causes of anxiety is not existing in the present moment, either by fuming internally about a past event or worrying about possible futures. Feeling gratitude about something in your life right now immediately anchors you to the present moment and reduces the feeling of anxiety.
So, how can you create the habit of an attitude of gratitude? (And yes, it can be cultivated.) Here's how:
Keep a gratitude journal
Oprah has done it, and those who stick with it report higher levels of well-being and a tendency to "attract" more things to be grateful for.
Find a gratitude partner to check in with on a daily basis either in person (if you live with them) or via email or phone. Openly share the things you are each most grateful for.
No matter what your circumstances, there's always something to appreciate. If you focus on good things, they tend to grow and expand in your life. Find ways to remember to be grateful each day, and start enjoying the myriad of benefits to your body, mind and spirit.