Unless you’ve been living on a remote tropical island (and during recent turbulent times you may have been tempted to escape there), you have seen the growing evidence about the huge positive impact gratitude has on your health. As little as five minutes a day of focused gratitude, the no-cost quality of life booster, contributes to impressive improvements not only in emotional health, but also in physical, social, and spiritual health.
Some may ask, “what is gratitude?” Gratitude is a different emotion from happiness because it is most often a reaction to another individual’s generosity. The trigger, according to science, is to receive a message from someone else, interpret it as beneficial to yourself, and experience thankfulness.
Repeatedly, studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can produce a range of impressive health benefits that often continue well after the expressions of gratitude are finished.
Ready to boost all your dimensions with some thank you’s? Here are 6 positive side effects of being grateful:
1. Physical Benefits
People who experience and express gratitude report feeling healthier than other people and report fewer aches and pains. This positive attitude creates a generous snowball of good health since thankful people are also more likely to exercise more often and visit their doctor regularly, which is likely to contribute to further longevity. The health benefits of a daily gratitude journal have been proven to decrease depression and anxiety, as well as improve cardiovascular function in heart patients.
A free health booster for us all? Grab a pen before bed and spend a mere 15 minutes jotting down what you are grateful for that day, and odds are you will sleep better and longer. That increases not only your quality but also potentially the quantity of your life.
2. Adds To Your Emotional Bank Account Balance
The math of your emotional bank account is pretty simple: positive emotions contribute, negative emotions withdraw. More positive + less negative = Higher emotional balance. Research shows that when it comes to your emotional bank account, gratitude is like a generous grandma who just can’t stop giving, and defends her sweet one against all negative withdrawals.
The simple act of writing a thank-you note to someone who has blessed you produces profound good feelings, empathy, and optimism. Remembering the moment that inspired the thank you card, in turn, produces even more positive emotions, a sort of cascading happiness effect.
Not only does gratitude increase well-being and happiness, it also shuts down emotional withdrawals by decreasing toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, frustration, guilt, and regret. No wonder small daily deposits of gratitude can have a compounding effect on your emotional bank account. So, go write grandma that thank you note you’ve been meaning to send. She’s earned your interest!
“Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.” – Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
3. Builds Stronger Relationships
Grateful people appear warm and responsive, which increases their trust in others and influences them to approach and bond with their benefactors. Researchers refer to this as the “broaden-and-build theory” of positive emotions, where positive feelings encourage us to seek out new experiences, people, and activities. This comfort zone expansion increases the odds of finding high-quality relationship partners.
Expressions of thanks can also reinforce the bonds of current relationships, through the give-and-take of mutual gratitude. This immediate effect of greater joy contributes to long-term social success, so much that the person receiving gratitude reaps rewards in personal well-being and relationship satisfaction up to six months after the deliberate gratitude expression. That’s a powerful social benefit!
4. Better Work Environment
The impact of gratitude can even improve your work environment. A simple daily practice of reflecting on the parts of your job you are grateful for has been proven to positively impact your productivity, goal achievement, decision-making and networking skills.
Not only can being thankful help you manage your job responsibilities more effectively, but it also reduces job-related stress and burnout. Knowing this, it’s not hard to see how small doses of thankfulness could result in increased job satisfaction, but also a potential promotion, when you play your thank you cards right!
5. Fills Your Spirit
The spiritual blessings of counting your blessings are profound. Being grateful for what you have improves your self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance and achieving your life purpose.
Recent research on types of gratitude have important significance for not only individuals but society as a whole. Study participants who had reflected on and expressed gratitude for experiences rather than material purchases, were significantly more generous to others and kept less for themselves than did those in the group who reflected on possessions.
One explanation, according to scientists, is that when people feel closer to other humans, they might treat others better. By structuring community experiences and events that promote social and spiritual connection, organizers can encourage more future altruistic behavior, which benefits us all.
“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” – Naomi Williams
6. Brain Power
Still skeptical? Even brain scans, hard scientific data, are confirming the astonishing impact of gratitude in 3 fascinating ways. A brain experiencing gratitude toward a specific person is flooded with feel-good hormones which makes you more inclined to desire that feeling again and make you feel attached to others at the same time.
Brain scans show gratitude also does something quite peculiar: it activates the hypothalamus. Being thankful actually makes our metabolism, hunger and other natural bodily functions work more efficiently.
Perhaps most significantly during this high-stress era, gratitude increases mental strength. Remembering all you have to be thankful for, even during the most tragic times of your life, creates resilience and reduces Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So, there you have it. That “Attitude of Gratitude” isn’t a platitude…it’s a health booster of highest magnitude!
What are you most grateful for today? Let us know in the comments below!
Image courtesy of Twenty20.com
If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions
You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)
3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work
How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.
You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.
Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?
The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:
- I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
- I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
- I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal.
It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.
Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.
Can you train or recharge your willpower?
A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.
The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.
Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:
1. Focused breathing
Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.
You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.
2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal
According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.
You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.
Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.
High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.
3 Inspiring Lessons We Can Learn From Jim Carrey About the Law of Attraction
You’ve more than likely heard of Jim Carrey before. Over the years, he has starred in many popular films including The Truman Show, The Mask, and Bruce Almighty (just to name a few.)
But his personality goes a lot deeper than just his comedic persona and movie star charisma. In fact, Jim Carrey is probably one of the most philosophical individuals on the planet!
Although he isn’t in the spotlight as much anymore, throughout the years, he has credited his success and fortunes by applying the Law of attraction into his life. What’s even more inspiring is that Jim Carrey, like you and I, came from humble beginnings. No silver spoon or easy ticket. In fact, his family was very poor throughout his childhood. So what made him so successful in attracting such an extravagant and self-fulfilling life?
Here are 3 lessons you can learn from Jim Carrey when it comes to manifesting your dreams into a reality:
1. You Have To Take Action
“You can’t just visualize then go eat a sandwich”, Jim Carrey says. It goes without saying that the law of attraction does require action. You cannot simply rely on visualizing and expect to see results, especially when it comes to manifesting desires that other people would like to achieve also. E.g. Careers, scholarships, competitions, anything that involves another individual.
Visualization and positive thinking are crucial when it comes to using the law of attraction, but you have to meet the universe halfway with the steps you take as well. We are physical beings that require physical steps to get physical results. The real key is to make daily plans/goals in order to get you closer towards achieving your desires. So after that sandwich, make sure start taking action toward your dreams!
This could be working on your hobbies or passion, applying for that dream job or studying to get better grades. As long as you are moving toward your goals then there’s no reason why it can’t happen. So get out there and kick some butt.
2. Double Down On What You Love
“My father could have been a great comedian but he didn’t believe that that was possible for him, and so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant and when I was 12 years old he was let go from that safe job, and our family had to do whatever we could to survive. I learned many great lessons from my father. Not the least of which was that: You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
If this story of Jim Carrey’s father doesn’t pull on your heartstrings and inspire you at the same time, nothing else will! This is such an undeniable life lesson that everyone needs to learn. A lesson to take risks, push comfort zones and go all-in on what you love doing. So if your dreams, hobbies or goals seem far fetched to the majority, then you are already beating the other 99%.
Be that 1% that’s willing to dream big and rise above the norm. Unfortunately, in today’s society, our ancestral instincts still rule our everyday life. Fear is one of them and controls the majority of our population. It’s scary to push comfort zones and try something new, the thought of failure is often paralyzing to many. But my question to you is, will you look back one day and regret the chances you didn’t take?
3. Keep Your Eye On The Prize
“As far as I can tell, it’s just about letting the universe know what you want and working toward it, while letting go of how it comes to pass.” Holding onto every little detail when it comes to manifesting, can conjure up more harm than good. The reason is that the universe will deliver in ways you might not expect.
If you are too busy wondering when your desires will manifest, comparing yourself to others, or ignoring every sign that doesn’t look like your detailed plan you’ve written down, then you may be missing out on opportunities that are right in front of you! Your visualizations don’t have to be perfect, in fact, it’s better to just let go altogether and focus on the result itself rather than dwelling on every little detail. This doesn’t mean to simply forget about what you want but instead having the confidence it will happen in time.
An example of this is when Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for 30 million dollars. The only detail he knew was that he would earn it through his acting career, and he did indeed achieve this goal! So make sure to tell the universe what you want, but try not to hold onto every little detail!
Jim Carrey is just another person like you and me, with his own personal ups and downs in his road to success. He is someone to look up to when applying the law of attraction in your life too. It doesn’t matter if your goals or desires are different because the core foundation will always stay the same. You can and will do this if you think, feel and act as if it will happen!
Meditation for Beginners: How It Works and Where to Start
Meditation was first developed in India many years ago (around 5000-3500 BCE). It took quite some time to become popular in the western world, but today, it is celebrated as a therapeutic tool to ease stress, anxiety, depression, and addictions. In the past years, it has also become recognized as helping to improve mental performance, and consequently became a multi-billion dollar business. If you’ve never tried it, you may be wondering how something so simple as sitting with your eyes closed could deliver such incredible benefits.
How meditation works
Meditation is about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective over one’s thoughts. Many think that meditating is about trying to achieve a zen state of mind, but that’s not the point. Observing one’s thoughts, and then letting go of them so that eventually you may start to better understand them, is the real goal of each meditation practice.
There are different techniques to go through this mental process. Some focus on the breath and bodily sensation, others make you visualize an object, and others help you to channel your thoughts towards acts of love and kindness.
A typical meditation session involves you sitting on a chair or cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed. Once you assume a comfortable position and focus on your breath, you should start noticing your thoughts. At this point, according to what type of technique you’re using, you will try to let those thoughts go away by focusing on something else (this could be your breath or a mental image you created).
With time and practice, you may be able to reach a state of mind where very few thoughts (or none) are present. Despite the simplicity of this process, meditating for more than ten minutes is extremely tough for most. Many people that try meditation get discouraged by the fact that “they can’t stop thinking.” In fact, it has been proven that people spend most of their days being anything but mindful and peaceful.
In a 2010 study, Harvard researchers asked more than 2000 adults about their thoughts and actions at random moments throughout their day via an iPhone app. People’s minds wandered 47% of the time, and mind wandering often triggered unhappiness, the scientists reported.
They also observed that spending time observing our thoughts without getting stuck on them, may help to better understand oneself, and possibly being able to reduce the number of negative thoughts one experiences.
“The mind is definitely something that can be transformed, and meditation is a means to transform it.” – Dalai Lama
What science says about meditation
People have practiced meditation for thousands of years, but scientists have studied its effects for only a dozen. In the past few years, many studies have been published about the neurological benefits of meditation, proving it to improve brain function in many different ways.
Meditation’s benefits range from preserving the aging brain, to improving happiness by reducing the activity of the brain’s “me center” (monkey mind). A more recent study has even proven that meditation is as powerful as antidepressants in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. Many more studies are being conducted every day on meditation, and we can expect to gain a lot more insight in the near future.
Can anyone meditate?
Millions of people are practicing mindfulness meditation every day with great results, but there are also as many people that have tried meditating and didn’t like it or didn’t manage to be consistent with their practice. The most important part of developing a meditation practice is consistency. You don’t have to meditate every single day, but the benefits are tied to regular, consistent practice.
Some studies claim that some benefits of meditation such as improved mood, decreased stress and decreased blood pressure, can be felt after a single session. Some other benefits like increased focus and decreased anxiety may be experienced after a few weeks and others take longer to develop.
Some people claim that as little as five minutes of meditation per day can make miracles, but research shows that a regular practice associated with benefits involves 10-20 minutes of meditation at least three times per week.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” – Mother Teresa
What’s the best way to begin a meditation practice?
A good place to start for aspiring mediators is Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former English student in sport science, dropped his studies to travel to Asia and trained as a Buddhist monk. He created Headspace with the goal of helping millions of people to live a more mindful life. Over 30 million people have downloaded and use headspace. This is due to his simplicity and its beautiful design and animations.
Do you meditate? If so, what’s your favorite aspect of it? Share your thoughts below!
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