They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, and today is my 21st day in a row practicing gratitude. Although the idea of a habit forming in 21 days probably depends on the difficulty or the enormity of the behavior one is trying to change, my habit of practicing gratitude has taken root. When I started this practice it was just to pick a theme for this month but also to pass the time during the current isolation period. What I didn’t realize was how profound the benefits would be.
I believe that expressing gratitude first thing in the morning was the biggest factor in the formation of my habit, resulting in a much happier outlook on life. The average human being has about 60,000-70,000 thoughts a day, and most are actually negative! For example, you might wake up and think about problems first thing in the morning while still in bed. This process starts your day off in a negative mindset which might spiral into more negativity, which then further affects the rest of your day being negative. I have been there many, many times. So to prevent this just the simple act of thinking a grateful thought first thing in the morning will help you with a much healthier, happier attitude toward life. Or rather, this practice will train your brain to look for the good in life.
Research has shown that expressing gratitude leads to less anxiety and depression, improved sleep, lower blood pressure, improved immunity, as well as a healthier heart! My favorite research finding on gratitude is that it increases dopamine which is a neurotransmitter for being known as the “happy hormone.” There are more effects than what I listed here so please research more in depth if you’re serious about practicing gratitude, thereby increasing your happiness to life.
With the stresses of our current world we can use all the help we can get, especially with such an easy practice as gratitude. I must confess, though, that my loyal meditation practice probably was a factor in my eudaimonia, but I will discuss and elaborate either in a separate blog post or even make it my next month’s writing goal. For now, I will continue with my daily practice to see how being grateful will further deepen my appreciation for life, health, and general well being.