Five Ways Thankfulness Improves Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Five Ways Thankfulness Improves Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health

Laurie Campbell

Five ways thankfullness improves spiritual mental physical health

Thanksgiving is the perfect time to bring more gratitude and peace of mind into your life. It can last through the holidays and on into the new year. Studies have shown that being grateful improves mental health. And, because the spirit communicates through our heart and mind, thinking of blessings to be grateful for and carrying an attitude of gratitude increases spiritual connectedness.

Giacomo Bono, PhD, from Cal State found that “Gratitude played an important role in many areas of positive mental health of the teens in our study”. Gratitude helps in a multitude of ways, including the following:

1. Anxiety and depression can be diminished, to varying degrees. Thinking of the positives in life helps replace and relieve worry, stress, melancholy, and other negative emotions. Even when symptoms are severe, some relief can be found by making a conscious effort to consider whatever blessings can be counted and calling forth a sense of gratitude for them.

2. Optimism and overall life satisfaction improve. One study was performed by asking half of the participants to write down things they were grateful for and the other group wrote down irritations. After 10 weeks, the grateful group felt more optimistic and better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also had fewer doctor visits.

3. An increase in gratitude, optimism, and physical health are connected. As Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, from the University of Utah observed, “There are some very interesting studies linking optimism to better immune function.” In addition, the people who were more grateful were also more likely to exercise.

4. Negative events can be perceived and experienced more positively. For instance, if someone is injured in an accident, there are difficult challenges. However, gratitude that injuries weren’t more severe can actually help increase the rate of healing and the overall outcome. Researchers discovered that the people who suffered a heart attack and felt grateful to still be alive found gains from the experience and were less likely to suffer another heart attack than those who didn’t feel grateful.

5. Raise your “set-point” to increase overall happiness. Genetics plays an important role in happiness, or the lack thereof. It has been found that people have a certain set point of happiness, which is the level of happiness they return to, in time, after good or bad events occur. Research has also shown that this set point can be raised with an increase in gratitude.

Think of Thanksgiving as a daily activity throughout the year, as well as a sacred holiday. Write down the positives, or at least take time to honor them by counting your blessings and feeling gratitude for them. Pray and/or meditate upon them. This will lift your spirits, along with your mind and your body.

Laurie Campbell has a masters degree in mental health counseling, not to mention a “doctorate,” of sorts, in repentance because of the many mistakes and challenges she has faced. She is deeply grateful for a patient and loving Father in Heaven.

Mastering Mindfulness

Mastering Mindfulness

mindfulness2

Chasing Shiny Thoughts

Have you ever been driving, arrived at your destination, and realized that you can’t remember the commute? Have you read a page or two of a book and can’t remember a single word? Like a raccoon drawn to a shiny object, it’s oh-so-easy to chase after shiny thoughts and lose precious moments.

The Conveyor Belt of Thought

Our minds are like a conveyor belt that’s always running. Our thoughts flit enticingly before us on this conveyor belt and we get to choose which ones we pay attention to, and for how long. But a skill that most of us don’t realize that we have is the power to slow down the conveyor belt, or stop it altogether; the practice is called mindfulness, and it’s really good for you.

Your Power Is in the Present

Mindfulness is achieved by focusing on the present. Think about it. When was your life not happening right now? You can’t change the past, and your influence on the future is always determined by what you’re doing in the present. All of your hopes, dreams, and aspirations are entirely dependent on your ability to live powerfully in the present.

Children: The Masters of Mindfulness

When it comes to mindfulness and living in the present, we have a lot to learn from children. Generally speaking, children are oblivious to time and therefore can allow themselves to be fully present, with whatever they’re doing, at any given time. As a result, they’re trusting, happy, and worry free.

As we grow up, becoming distracted, worried, and overwhelmed is commonplace. It’s exciting news to discover that the power to reverse these unproductive behaviors and live joyfully in each moment has been with us all along.

How Do I Do It?

Mindfulness experts advise that beginners pull themselves into the present moment by focusing on the breath—because your breath is always with you in the present. Here are some steps to help you begin practicing mindfulness:

  1. Find a quiet place. If you can carve out a few minutes to sit alone and be mindful, excellent. If not, know that you can practice mindfulness anywhere, in everything you do, simply by being present and allowing yourself to thoughtfully, calmly, and nonjudgmentally, experience each moment with your five senses.
  2. Slow down the conveyor belt. Try to clear your mind and focus on your breathing. Some find it helpful to say words like “Let” on the in-breath, and “Go” on the out-breath. You can close your eyes or focus on something in your surroundings. Use your five senses to observe and experience your surroundings without judgment. What is the temperature? Are there any smells? What can you hear? Notice any physical sensations internally or externally.
  3. Observe your thoughts. When thoughts do pass before your mind, allow yourself to watch them go by as an observer, without judgment. Let them simply be what they are without chasing them or getting emotionally involved. Remember, you are not your thoughts, and it’s healthy to periodically distance yourself from them. As an observer, you’ll be more open to truth and guiding inspiration.
  4. Set your intention. Setting an intention is a powerful way to put your faith into practice. Decide what you want to accomplish. Do you intend to stay positive throughout the day? Watch what you eat? Keep your temper? Finish your entire workout? It could be anything. Decide what you intend to do, say it to yourself, and simultaneously give it to God, or send it out into the universe. For example: I intend to finish the first item on my to-do list.
  5. Engage in the present. When setting your intention, trust that all you have to do is fully engage yourself in the present, and that God, or the universe, will provide everything you need to succeed.

Mindfulness Helps You Live Worry Free

A fascinating fact about worry is that it’s either past or future based—the two time components that are completely out of your control. When you set your positive intention, and exercise faith that God, or the universe has your back, all you have to do is your very best with the moment in front of you. This mindset is freeing and carries with it a whole host of benefits.

Linda Clyde is foremost a wife and a mother of three. You may contact her at colossalthought@gmail.com