Diablo Gazette – Wear Gratitude Like a Cloak

March 14th, 2021

Co-authored by Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith and Bill Yarborough.

Rumi said it best: “Wear gratitude like a cloak, and it will feed every corner of your life.” The wisdom that practicing gratitude provides many benefits is not new since the beloved 13th century Persian Poet knew it then. Rumi just lacked the scientific research and an MRI to prove it. Rumi is not the only historic figure to praise gratitude.

Research on the influence of gratitude is extensive and much has been published extolling its benefits to our psychological and physical health. Among the scientific findings, gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Likewise, researchers confirmed that gratitude effectively reduces depression and increases happiness. Even MRI scans indicate gratitude may have a lasting positive effect on the brain.

Gratitude has even been found to be more successful than other psychological therapeutic or healing techniques. In one study, over 400 individuals were tested on the impact of various therapeutic interventions. When they asked these individuals to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who they had not thanked for their kindness, participants immediately experienced huge increases in happiness scores, greater than any other psychological intervention in the study. Other studies have yielded similar results. One linked keeping an evening gratitude journal to longer and better sleep.

This healing power of gratitude also extends to overcoming trauma. For example, Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude were found to experience lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Given the benefits of gratitude in dealing with tragic events, it can also be a potent aide in contending with the stresses of the Covid-19 pandemic. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. So how do you cultivate this miraculous “cure-all” called gratitude? Here are a few suggestions to follow:

Write a thank-you note. You can nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Occasionally, write one to yourself.

No time to write? Thank someone mentally. It may help just to think about somebody who has done something nice for you and mentally thank the individual.

Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share thoughts about the gifts you have received each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes, it helps to pick a number such as three to five things that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.

Pray. People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although people often focus on a word or phrase (such as ”peace”), why not focus on what you are grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.)

Through gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals, whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.

Like the great sage Willie Nelson said: “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”

If you have questions or comments, please reach out to us via the contact information on our websites: Holly@hypnotherapytraining.com or Bill@billyarborough.com on his contact page.

By Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith, D. Min., MFT, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Bill Yarborough, CHT, and Certified EFT Practitioner.

Below is the link to the March 2021 July Diablo Gazette. Our Emotional Health column is on page 7.

March Diablo Gazette

Categories: Emotional Health, Emotional Health Articles, gratitude, post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD