By Lacy Wolff
Before you read this story, get a pencil and some paper.
Now, it’s time for a quick exercise:
- Think of the things that you are most grateful for.
- List the top three items. Why are you grateful for this person, place or thing? Provide as many details as possible.
In doing this simple exercise, you have taken a step toward improving your health.
You have created a shift in your hormone pathways and, if practiced regularly, you can rewire your neural network (the way you think). You are also reducing inflammation that leads to heart, joint and other types of chronic disease.
Counting blessings or writing a gratitude list before bed promotes better sleep, lower blood pressure, better digestion, and a stronger immune system.
The next time you are feeling down, pull out your gratitude lists, mentally or literally, and remember all you have to be grateful for. Here are a few ways to incorporate gratitude into your daily life:
- Create a gratitude journal and make writing in it part of your morning or evening ritual. Focus on specific events, moments, people you have interacted with, pets or even technology that you are grateful for. Express why you are grateful for these in your journal.
- Ask those around you what they are grateful for. Encourage an attitude of gratitude through the questions you ask: What was the best moment of your day? What was your biggest win today?
- Download a gratitude app. There are many free apps available for both iPhones and Androids. To get started, search for "gratitude" using Google.
- Share your gratitude lists with others—including ERS. Email your list to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As with most things worth doing, developing an attitude of gratitude takes effort and energy. It’s energy well-spent, however. Practicing gratitude can make a lasting change in the way we see the world while also improving our health.
Lacy Wolff is the health promotion administrator for the Texas Employees Group Benefits Program (GBP).