Healthy food, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and ——?
Yes, really. Gratitude is crucial for your health.
Practicing gratitude primes and re-wires your brain for increased feelings of being rewarded, bonding, empathy, and compassion and increases your production of “happy” chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. So your gratitude practice naturally and consistently combats stress, and the many health risks associated with it.
You’re a smart woman. You’re already doing all the other things – you eat your vegetables and go to the gym, and hit the sack early so you can get your 8 hours – and still feel “meh”. The trick is practicing gratitude daily.
How it Helps Your Internal Organs (from a TCM Perspective)
- Benefits Your Spleen: Spleen energy is in charge of focus and concentration, and is weakened by worry, anxiety, and obsessive thinking. Using your spleen energy to focus on positive things you’re grateful for boosts its strength. And as an added bonus: you’ll have better digestion and muscle tone – because the spleen is in charge of those things too.
- Moves liver energy stagnation: Stress is held in the liver, and makes your liver energy stagnate, when it’s supposed to be moving smoothly through the body to support other organs. Your gratitude practice reduces stress, making it easier for you liver to keep your energy moving. This means that on top of being in a better mood, you’ll have fewer aches and pain, and once again better digestion, because the liver is involved with those things too! (More on that in another post).
- Supports your heart: Your heart energy in particular relies on the strength of the liver, and its ability to move energy. When stress stagnates your liver energy, your heart energy suffers too. Gratitude keeps things in motion!
- Eases the burden on your kidney energy: Your kidney energy has to support the functioning of all your other internal organs, and goes into overdrive when your liver and spleen are weakened by stress and anxiety. Trust me, your kidneys will thank you for your gratitude practice.
Smart women practice gratitude.
How to Do it Right
- Write down 3 new things you’re grateful for every day. Use paper and pen/pencil, because research has shown that it has a stronger effect. Pick new things. The brain adapts quickly and prefers novelty. If you write the same thing all the time it loses its effect. Be specific. “I’m so grateful for the good laughs I had last night at dinner with Jenna” works much better than “I’m so grateful for my friends”. It evokes a stronger memory, and imprints it more strongly on the brain.
- Spend 20 seconds reliving each of the things on your list. This overrides your brain’s tendency to gloss over the good stuff and fixate on the bad (i.e. combats negativity bias).
- Be consistent and you’ll get optimal results. Gratitude is like a muscles. It can take a while to build it up, and it weakens when you don’t use it.
- Stay on track by doing a gratitude challenge with a friend. commit to your gratitude practice for 21 days. (Yes! Three whole weeks) and share your lists with your gratitude buddy once a week. Creating a sense of accountability helps keep the momentum going, and sharing your gratitude with others amplifies the experience!