Gratitude: The Fountain of Youth
But before you do, try a little experiment: Think of a time when you had some trouble in your life. It doesn’t matter what it was, just a time when you needed help, were desperate and unhappy – and someone came to your rescue. Maybe it was financial. Or emotional. Maybe someone gave you some advice, or just did something nice for you when you really needed it. We all have those stories in our lives.
Now, think about that moment when you realised you were saved. The flood of relief and, yes, gratitude, that filled you. Remember how good it felt? How energised and excited you suddenly were, when just moments before you were overcome by stress and anxiety? Remember how that stress and anxiety caused physical symptoms – headaches, muscle aches, sleeplessness, nausea?
The Physical Impact of Gratitude
Why is it so easy to believe that bad feelings like anxiety and anger can have physical implications on our bodies, but the idea of gratitude having a positive impact seems ridiculous?
If you keep your memory in mind for a moment, remember how good that sense of gratitude felt? That’s because gratitude unleashes physiological changes in our brains and bodies that do, in fact, make us feel better.
In fact, various scientific studies have confirmed this: There are physical changes in the body resulting from conscious efforts to be more grateful in life. A study conducted by the Institute of HeartMath and the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School demonstrated this, in fact.
Gratitude and Aging
We’re all physical beings, and our health and longevity is affected by many factors – including diet, stress, and genetics. What’s slowly dawning on people is that our mental attitudes and emotional happiness (or unhappiness) has an effect, too.
Our emotional and mental state determines not just our behaviours – such as eating unhealthy foods when we’re sad, thus gaining weight and becoming less healthy – but also our brain and body chemistry. When we’re happy, our bodies are in balance, and we’re healthier, which makes us live longer.
When we’re unhappy, it’s the opposite – our bodies get bathed in chemicals designed to get us through stress, but these reactions can have disastrous consequences on our health over a long period of time. What the studies have shown is that practising gratitude – simply taking a moment to be thankful every day – reverses that process and can actually slow down the aging process through the simple act of reducing the ‘stress chemicals’ our body bathes in every day.
Practising gratitude is easy for some – they simply put aside some time every day to reflect on what they’re grateful for. For some of us, concentrating and focusing our thoughts isn’t so easy.
If you find yourself in the second category, the Appreciation Station is a simple, elegant solution: A way of reminding yourself to take a moment, every day, and write down something we’re grateful for so we can experience that rush of relief and happiness every day – and have more days to enjoy as a result.
If you are keen to get started with your habit of gratitude, you can preorder your very own Appreciation Station here.
With Grace x