REMEDY BLOG | THE PRACTICE OF GRATITUDE
A Healthy Harvard Is Full Of Gratitude
November 24, 2017 | Brandon Mills
Some of the most beautiful words in the English language, like grace and gratefulness, share a core commonality with the word gratitude. Gratitude, in its essence, helps people feel more positive emotions, allowing them to relish experiences... while at the same time improving their health, allowing them to overcoming adversity, and strengthening their relationships. So, how does showing gratitude actually improve our health? In the last 10 years, studies have continued to grow in depth and complexity, as we hone in on the understanding of the importance of being grateful.
We want to send a special Thanksgiving thanks to Harvard Health Publishing (HHP) for this week's article highlighting studies on gratitude. HHP showcases psychologists like Dr Emmons from the University of California and Dr Michael E McCullough from University of Miami. To date, this duo has been responsible for much of the research on gratitude. In one of their most recent studies they had two groups perform a seemingly simple task: write weekly. But what to write? Group A was tasked to focus on gratitude while the other (Group B) was assigned the duty of focusing on their daily irritations. Not surprisingly, those who wrote about gratitude finished the study having exercised more, with fewer visits to the physician's office, compared to those who focused on aggravation. So, focusing on irritating, aggravating thoughts is bad for our health? And those positive thoughts come with benefits? Hmmm, who'da thunk it.
Click here to check out more fun facts in praise of gratitude.
Reflecting On The Science
These experiments give us different perspectives and ways to view these concepts. At the most basic level, installing more gratitude is a simple yet powerful human programming tool whose aim is trying to get us to love ourselves more genuinely; therefore we can truly love and appreciate all the humanity and beauty around us. Doesn't sound that bad to me!? More happiness...? I'll take it!
I encourage you to check out the HHP study linked above when you have a chance. The more angles which we can absorb on how gratitude affects us for the better, the greater chance that one of these stories will actually create an epiphany in our own personal experience. If gratitude has the ability to change some of the feelings we have of monotony or stress and replace them with optimism and encouragement, then we laying the foundation of a healthier, more fulfilling life.
A Personal Journey Through Gratitude
I went walking today.
As my dogs galloped beside me, we eventually reached the crest of the forest hill behind my house. We stood overlooking a football field-sized valley, surrounded by the deep evergreen color of the coniferous forest surrounding us. This sweet smelling backdrop provided the natural fence line for the field. My awareness was slowly brought down closer to ground level. I realized that on my walk (at least up to this point), I had just been feeding that analytical part of my brain that plans and traps, worries and discourages, that nitpicks, tries to be prepared, yet hunts from a place of inadequacy.
As the sheer awe of the landscape around me turned my attention to the extraordinary buffets of colors and combinations, I was reminded of great painters like Vincent Van Gogh and Henri Matisse. I felt like I was finally tuning in... seeing my environment through the eyes of a great impressionist painter who was discovering their next subject. I felt a warm sensation encompass me as I settled in. It was with gratitude that I was able to become slowly enveloped and ever more appreciative of the moment. I took advantage by reflecting and understanding that very often these moments arise when I am connected to nature.
It was a gentle reminder as to why the connections that we discover through Remedy Hike are so genuine and needed so badly. It is increasingly more important that we all are connected to a community that can deliver growth and support by organizing an opportunity to be outside consistently... for this is where gratitude so easily manifests itself. We should be using the tools of nature to help us become free from the shackles of our programmed "to-do-list" mind and reach deeper inside. It will only help us become increasingly aware of the contrast to the fleeting sense of satisfaction that may come from those more material experiences.
As we move into the holiday season, we implore you all to find connection. To explore all aspects of gratitude as we culminate an amazing year of hikes and look forward to sharing and reflecting with you in the new year.
We will always be disappointed that a group of squid isn't called a squad.
Remedy Hike is on a mission to change the way we think about our health. We hike for change. Because we see Health Outside the Ordinary.
RemedyHike.com is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on RemedyHike.com