Use the included list of gratitude practice ideas and unlock 3 amazing health benefits of living with an attitude of gratitude.
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Ever since the first harvest feast between the English colonial pilgrims and the Native American Wampanoag tribe in the 1600s, Americans have honored the annual tradition of expressing thanks and gratitude with food, family, and friends every November.
But the importance of giving thanks and practicing gratitude dates earlier than the 1600s.
The Athenian philosopher Plato (c. 428-347 B.C.) said, “A grateful mind is a great mind which eventually attracts to itself great things.”
Apostolic teacher, Paul, or Saul of Tarsus (c.5 – 64/67 AD), charged first-century Christians to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Epictetus, a Greek philosopher (c. 50–135 AD) wrote, “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
Famous British storyteller, Charles Dickens (1897) said, “Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
For years philosophers and theologians alike have seen a direct correlation between the practice of gratitude and overall well-being, but research has not only demonstrated improved mental health but emotional and physical health as well which of course benefits all areas of our lives including the way we interact with those around us.
Before we dive into 3 surprising ways incorporating intentional gratitude practices into your life could change it for the better, let’s first define why practicing gratitude is not the same as being thankful.
For the last 20+ years, the extended family on my dad’s side has been going to our family cabin over Thanksgiving. Every year my grandmother has us go around the table (which has gotten quite large now), and share one thing we are thankful for. It has to be specific, and it is never allowed to be obvious things like God and family.
Although this is a lovely tradition, naming specific things you are thankful for once a year around a table is not the same as incorporating a habit of practicing gratitude in your life.
Just as the habit of exercise is essential to living strong and preventing disease, a habit of proactively practicing gratitude results in disease prevention and health promotion as well.
Let’s dive into 3 ways gratitude practice can change your life and then practical ways in which to do it.
3 Amazing Health Benefits Of Gratitude Practice
1. Gratitude promotes weight loss.
Say what? Yes, it is true. An attitude of gratitude that is proactively supported with intentional practices can actually help you to reach your fitness goals.
How? Because research has proven that mindset matters when it comes to weight loss.
In this study, researchers conducted a poll among college-aged girls and found a direct correlation between the way they perceived their bodies and their likelihood of exercising. In a surprising twist, it was actually discovered that the more negatively a girl thought about her body the less likely she was to consistently work out.
The interesting conclusion of this study among adults in the U.S. and U.K. found that the risk of future weight gain was significantly greater if the subject perceived herself to be overweight, regardless of whether or not she objectively was.
Mindset matters, and frankly, I don’t need a research study to convince me of that. In the span of 48 hours I can go from feeling like a smokin’ hot momma to a worn-out, flabby housekeeper. Has my level of fitness or body fat percentage fluctuated in 48 hours? Not at all. Just the way I think about myself. In fact, It would take more than several weeks for my body to truly change.
This leads us to point number two.
3 Amazing Health Benefits Of Gratitude Practice
2. Gratitude can improve your confidence and self-esteem.
Practicing gratitude positively impacts your confidence and self-esteem. In this study, researchers asked participants to journal twice a week for 4 weeks about the things they were grateful for. After determining a specific person, experience, or thing they were grateful for that day they were then asked to reflect on one for 5 minutes and journal how it made them feel. They were then encouraged to proactively contemplate and reflect on those emotions throughout the day. By the end of the 4 weeks, there was a noted improvement in self-esteem and overall satisfaction with life.
Plenty of other studies have reached similar conclusions.
For example, Emmons and McCullough (2003) randomly assigned participants to one of three experimental conditions (i.e. hassles, gratitude listing, and neutral life events) and asked them to keep weekly records of various well-being measures over the course of 9 weeks.(e.g. moods, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, etc.). At the end of the study, those in the Gratitude listing arm rated their lives more favorably, reported fewer physical ailments, and had higher levels of gratitude and positive affect compared to other participants.
Another study found that middle school students who regularly practiced writing down the things they are grateful for showed a decrease in negative perceptions and improvement in satisfaction with their school experience as compared to those who did not.
3 Amazing Health Benefits Of Gratitude Practice
3. Gratitude reduces stress & anxiety.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress which consequently lowers levels of circulating cortisol in the bloodstream (a known contributor to obesity).
Actively practicing gratitude promotes a positive mindset, improving self-perception and consequently, the potential for successful and sustainable fat loss and health.
5 Ways To Practice Gratitude.
- Go for a walk and mentally note 5 things around you that you are grateful for.
- Every morning write down 5 things you are grateful for in a journal.
- Create a chalkboard wall and add one thing you are grateful for to it each morning until it is full. Then start over.
- Write someone a text, DM, email, or a hand-written letter, and share why you are grateful for them.
- Use an empty jar for all of your loose change and each time you drop a coin into the jar say out loud one thing you are grateful for. When the jar is full use the money to bless someone else.
- Do the DIY gratitude projects below!
DIY Thanksgiving Tree
Make this easy, no-glue Thanksgiving centerpiece using materials from your backyard.
Salt Dough Gratitude Tags
Use this fun craft recipe to write things you’re grateful for and then use as this year’s present tags or Christmas tree decorations.
Thankful Leaf Garland
Inspire gratitude with this easy DIY project.
Less mess than traditional pumpkin carving, try gratitude pumpkins this fall.
This year around the Thanksgiving table consider the words of Charles Spurgeon, “It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”
Wishing you the greatest of happiness this holiday season.
Pin any of the images below for later!
We often think about gratitude in terms of mental health, but we don’t often think about it in terms of emotional health and how the way that you think can directly affect the way that you feel and vice versa. Welcome to the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast with DIY Healthy Lifestyle Blogger on a former Empower you to transform your life.
One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast. I am your host, Anna Fullmer. Today we are chatting three amazing health benefits of gratitude practice. Not only are we gonna unlock three incredible health benefits of living with an attitude of gratitude, but we are also going to chat about practical ways that you can incorporate gratitude practice into.
Your life, as we are all well aware, at the time that this is being produced, it is the autumn and we are coming up on Thanksgiving, which is not necessarily true for some of my listeners who are overseas, but here in America we are coming up onto a time of year where historically, Part of what we are celebrating is this sense of counting our menning blessings and verbalizing the things that we are thankful for.
This has been happening ever since the very first harvest feast between the English colonial pilgrims and the Native American. I am going to butcher this name. I apologize. The Native American wa a Noag. In the 16 hundreds, and since then, I mean, Americans have honored this annual tradition of expressing thanks and gratitude with food, family, and friends every November.
However, this idea of living with Thanksgiving and practicing gratitude dates earlier than the 16 hundreds, and I’m gonna throw out some quotes here. The Athenian philosopher pla. Circa 4 28. 3 47 BC said A grateful mind is a great mind, which eventually attracts to itself great things. Apostolic teacher, Paul or Sal of Tarsis, circa five to 64 or 67 AD.
Charged first century Christians to rejoice. Always pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus Epic, Titus, I apologize if I butchered that one too. Epic. Titus a Greek philosopher, circa 50 to 1 35. A deep said. He said he is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.
Let’s rewind a little bit to more present day. This is still. Not exactly today, but Charles Dickens, famous British storyteller. That is really hard to say. Say that 10 times past famous British storyteller, Charles Dickens, circa 1897. He said this, he said, Reflect on your present blessings on which every man has many not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have.
Hi, Charles Dickens is worth repeating. Reflect on your present blessings on which every man has many not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. For years, philosophers and theologians alike have seen a direct correlation between the practice of gratitude or living with thanksgiving and overall wellbeing.
Since many of these quotes, research has not only demonstrated improved mental health when living with Thanksgiving, but also emotional and physical health, which of course benefits all other areas of our lives, including the way that we interact with those around us, which would be social health. Before we dive into three surprising.
Some of you may not have actually realized there’s research around this. Three surprising ways that incorporating intentional gratitude practices into your life could change it for the better. Let’s first define why practicing gratitude is not the same as being thankful. For the last 20 plus years, the extended family on my dad’s side has been going to our family cabin for Thanksgiving.
It’s a really sweet tradition and screen free dedicated time with family that I know. I look forward to every year. My cousins. Many of us are still going to this day, and now my cousins and I, our children play together and it’s just, it’s really, really sweet. Every year though, my grandmother, who is still living, by the way, which we praise God for, we’re so grateful.
All four of my grandparents are still currently living, which is amazing. Every year, my grandmother would have us go around the table at Thanksgiving, which have has gotten quite large by now, and share one thing that we are grateful for, and she always says this every year, she still says it. You would think 20 plus years later, we would all know this already,
But she always says it is not allowed to be God and family. Her point was, Be specific and don’t verbalize the things that you’re thankful for. Are obvious. Now, obviously we are thankful, right? We’re thankful for freedom, for, you know, for hope, for certainly for Jesus in my life and family. We’re thankful for these things, but her point was be specific, and what she probably didn’t realize is that there is research that supports that we need to learn how to be specific, although sitting around a table and naming things that you are thankful.
Once a year is a lovely tradition. It is not the same as incorporating a habit of practicing gratitude in your life, naming specific things you’re thankful for. Although important, once a year around a table is not the same as incorporating an attitude of gratitude as a habit in your. Just as the habit of exercise is essential to living strong and preventing disease, a habit of proactively practicing gratitude results in disease prevention and health promotion as well.
Again, exercising one day a year is not enough to prevent disease and to live strong. Just as naming the things that we are thankful for once a year around the table at Thanksgiving here in America is. The same and is not enough to receive these health benefits of practicing gratitude, establishing that habit.
So let’s dive first of all into the three ways gratitude practice can change your life for the better, and then practical ways in which to do it. Health benefit number one. Gratitude can promote weight loss. Say what? It is true. An attitude of gratitude that is proactively supported with intentional practices can actually help you to reach your fitness goals.
How is this possible? Because research has proven that mindset matters when it comes to weight loss. This is how Noom has become so popular because so much of our overeating or poor eating has to do with the way that we think. About food ourselves and the relationship between the two. I’m gonna talk with my own clients about this, but there was actually a research study done.
It was a poll conducted among college-aged girls, and what they found was a direct correlation between the way they perceived their bodies and their likelihood of exercising. Here’s the surprising twist, it was actually discovered that the more negative. A girl thought about her body, the less likely she was to consistently work out.
Now, I can tell you from experience I have seen this because notice how likely she was to consistently work out to form a habit of exercise. I have seen from an experience standpoint, a correlation between women who tend to think more negatively about their bodies. I often see more of the extreme mentalities, meaning they either go all or nothing.
They are in the gym over an hour, five to six days a week until they burn out, and then it’s like they can’t get themselves to do anything as opposed to somebody who tends to think of their bodies with more gratitude, acceptance in a healthy way. Again, we don’t wanna accept being overweight because we wanna prevent disease and thrive.
Right. But who are grateful for the bodies that they do have and the ability to move actually find it easier oftentimes to establish a healthier habit because they bounce back faster a day that they have just blown their diet or they didn’t exercise. It is easier for them to take that balanced approach and say, I’ll snap back tomorrow.
An interesting conclusion of another study. Among adults in the US and the uk, found that the risk of future weight gain was significantly greater if the subject perceived herself to be overweight. Regardless of whether or not she objectively was the risk of future weight gain was significantly greater if the subject at the time of the study perceived herself to be overweight regardless of whether or not she objectively.
Mind set matters. And here’s the thing, Let’s be real. Let’s be real for a second. I don’t need a research study to convince me of that, right? I mean, women, men do this too, but I feel like women and the hormones absolutely play a role in this without a doubt. But let’s be real. In the span of 48 hours, I can go from feeling like a smoke and hot mama to a worn out, flabby housekeeper.
Can I get an amen? I mean, it’s kind of the crazy, It’s kind of a crazy thing. Like I can wake up one day, look in the mirror, go about my day, and feel like I feel good today. I look good today. The next day I can literally feel exhausted, worn out, flabby, and like all I’m doing is surviving as a housekeeper and chauffeur.
I am literally the same. Literally in the same body. My level of fitness or body fat percentage has not fluctuated in 48 hours. In fact, it would take more like several weeks for my body composition to truly change. But mindset matters. So this leads us to point number two. Gratitude, consequently can improve your confidence and self-esteem.
An attitude of gratitude, a proactive approach to thinking with gratitude positively impacts your confidence and self-esteem. There was a study where researchers ask participants to journal twice a week for four weeks about the things they were grateful. After determining a specific person experience or a thing they were grateful for, they were then asked to reflect on that one thing for five minutes, and journal how reflecting on that made them feel.
For example, you sit down, this was twice a week, they sat down, They were asked to make what we call like a gratitude list. This is called gratitude listing. And it could be various different things. For example, I might write down that my daughter has had that Lily’s had a much better week at school, listening to her teacher and being kind to friends.
I might write down coffee. The fact that I am in love with the whole being. Coffee, we buy from go. I might then write down, I’m also grateful for the fact that every bag of coffee we buy from Govina, 50% of those proceed. Go right back to supporting our adoption costs. It’s an incredible organization. I, um, of course will probably write down my gratitude for pivoting toilet paper holders.
It’s no secret how much I am in love with whoever invented pivoting toilet paper holders. So much easier. Okay, so you write down specific things that you are grateful for. Then once you’ve written a list, they were asked, it doesn’t have to be super long, but they were then told to focus on one of those things.
And journal how it made them feel. Let’s just put down the coffee, for example. I might write down that it makes me feel energized. It makes me feel cozy, warm, happy, relaxed. And then they were encouraged to proactively contemplate and reflect on those emotions throughout the. By the end of the four weeks, there was a noted improvement in self-esteem and overall satisfaction with life.
This is interesting because we often think about gratitude in terms of like, you know, mental health, but we don’t often think about it in terms of emotional health and how the way that you think can directly affect the way that you feel and vice. There have been a lot of other studies that have reached similar conclusions.
There was one, um, this one’s older. It was done in 2003. These links are on the show notes. By the way, they were randomly assigned participants. They randomly assigned participants to one of three experimental conditions. One of these three was gratitude listing. Like I’d mentioned before, and ask them to keep weekly records of various wellbeing measures over the course of nine weeks.
So specifically people, the experimental conditions were hassles, gratitude listing, and neutral life events. These were the, the three groups these participants were assigned to that they would sort of journal on, if you will. They were then asked to keep weekly records of various wellbeing measures over the course of those nine weeks.
So they were asked to fill out certain questionnaires on their mood, coping behaviors, health behaviors, physical symptoms, et cetera. At the end of the study, Those who were journaling things they were grateful for as opposed to journaling like the hassles in their life or as opposed to journaling, just about neutral life events.
Like I ate lunch at 12:00 PM this is what I ate for lunch. Those that would be a neutral life event. Those in the gratitude listing arm at the end of this nine weeks significantly. Rated their lives significantly more favorably reported fewer physical ailments and had higher levels of positive effect compared to other participants.
Another study found that middle school students, Here’s one for your kids. This study found that middle school students who regularly practiced writing down the things they were grateful for, showed a decrease in negative perception. And improvement in satisfaction with their school experience as compared to those who did not.
I mean, you guys, these are practical applications. Middle school, middle school students. One thing that I want to note from a research standpoint, all of these research studies that I mentioned did note that the positive effect of these practices was not long term meaning. You know when you do it for four weeks, yes, there is a benefit initially, but if you don’t continue that practice, you lose the benefit.
Right? Uh, this to me is kind of a no brainer, but I do wanna point this out. This is the point of making it a habit. Just like exercise. If you exercise for four weeks and then you don’t exercise again for like another year, okay? Pretty obvious, you are not going to maintain the benefits. The same thing is true of gratitude Practice four weeks is gonna have a short term.
If you don’t continue it, it’s not going to continue to have that effect. So again, when we talk about mental and emotional health, it needs to become a habit. You have tried it all, worried you will never lose the extra weight or reclaim the energy you once enjoyed, Want to achieve fat loss without spending hours in a gym or eliminating entire food groups from your.
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Interesting health benefit number three. This is probably one you have heard more frequently than the first two. Gratitude practice reduces stress and anxiety. So the first one was directly resulting physical health. The second benefit is directly affecting emotional health. This one is really talking about mental.
Practicing gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, which consequently lowers levels of circulating cortisol in the bloodstream, which is a known contributor to obesity and multiple, multiple chronic diseases. And I, I’m not like, I’m not going into a lot of research studies with that because again, the ones that I mentioned, you can also see how when you feel more emotionally, Healthy, right?
You are more confident. Your self-esteem is higher. You can also see how that affects your mental health as well. But the idea is this, The idea is that too frequently in our minds, we are more quick to think of the hassles in our life than we are of the positive things in our life for good or for bad.
Especially in our society where we are now inundated with negative messages all of the time, it doesn’t matter what side of any coin you fall on, this information is now at our fingertips 24 7, unless we are intentional about having those screen free breaks. This is a different podcast for a different time, but I will throw this in here when it comes to thinking about gratitude as opposed to the hassles of life or the negative things of life.
But one of the reasons that I firmly believe more people should be turning off the news is because our brains, I do not believe we’re meant to consume so much negative information so often. Do we need to know all of the nitty gritty details of somebody’s awful experience on the other side of the world, whose father was killed, whose sister was, uh, brutally murdered and all of the details of it?
I’m going to argue probably not because she’s not my neighbor and there’s very little I’m going to be able to do for her. And if anything, it is just simply making me more anxious, stressed, and. If it’s my next door neighbor, absolutely I should, because she’s somebody whose life I can directly impact, make meals.
Ask her how I can help. Now, this is a, this so easily can be taken out of context and people can quickly misunderstand me. I will do a whole different podcast on this because this is something I’m very, very passionate about. I firmly believe when we need to be turning off the news more, but this contributes.
Or social media, all of the above, all those media outlets. But the point that I’m making here with this health benefit number three of gratitude is that when we are constantly filling our mind with all of the negativity of that is going on in the world, most of which we truly can’t do anything about, is out of our control, that it makes it that much more difficult to focus on the things that are within our control.
One of those things being our own attitude of gratitude. So my challenge as I go into these different ways to actively practice gratitude is to be more intentional about the things you can control. One of those is more consciously thinking about the things for which you are grateful for and are a blessing in your life.
Here are some ways to do that. Number one. When you go for a walk or you go for a run, or you are exercising intentionally, think and list five things that you are grateful for. Work smarter, not harder. We should all be exercising anyways. While you are doing it, think of things that you are grateful for.
If you’re going on a jog, just look around. And mentally lifts the things that you are grateful for. You can even tick them off on your finger while you’re going, speak them out loud, speak them in your mind, but be intentional. Five things. Idea number two, every morning, write down five things that you are grateful for in a journal.
So, um, I’m a, I’m a Christian in the Christian. Um, speak if you will. You might hear Christians talk about quiet time. This is something, or devotionals, devotion time. This is something where we are ultimately wanting to know Jesus better because, you know, for those of us who have been transformed by the grace of Jesus, he literally, there is no better person to ultimately bring peace and hope into our lives.
And one of the ways of getting to know him better is spending time in his word, which is the Bible. Literally a love letter written to us from God for the time that we’re here on this side of heaven. So we have this time that we will often call devotions. But one of the things, even in these moments, whether you are, you know, a Christian in practicing devotions, or you just simply like to journal or you want to start gratitude journal.
There, as I mentioned, is so much benefit to being very intentional about writing down those things that you are grateful for. Journaling the things that you are grateful for, and incorporating those into your mind. When something’s really stressing you out throughout the day, you go back and you remember, You know what, this stinks that wide angle lens.
Here’s the reality that exists. The reality that exists is that I am stressed in this rental house where I am. The furniture makes no sense. Things don’t match, nothing’s organized. That’s the wide angle lens overview. That’s the reality. But to offset the stress of that, I intentionally zoom in on the things that I am grateful for.
Yes, this is reality, but man, am I so grateful. For the gas fireplace in between the family room and the garage that was converted into a living room. That’s a true story. I am so grateful for Fill in the blank, Fill in the blank wide angle lens with zoomed in gratitude. Idea number three, create a chalkboard wall and add one thing that you’re grateful for each morning until it is.
A great space for this is the side of refrigerator panels. If you have a fridge and there’s a like a long floor to ceiling panel on that side, that’s like a golden chalkboard opportunity. You just put chalkboard paint on it. I did that at our second fixer upper. We used it all the time, but create a chalkboard can even paint the back of a door with chalkboard paint.
Write. Write one thing on it. You’re grateful for each morning, have your kids do it. If they can, write until it is full and then start. Idea number four, write someone a text, a dm, an email, or the best option, a handwritten letter. There was a poll that was done among clients of different small businesses, and one of the things that they found that was really interesting is clients felt most loved when they received a handwritten letter.
Isn’t that interest? It’s really rather sad actually, that we’ve come so far from such things, but consider a handwritten letter and share why you are grateful for them. Idea five, Use an empty jar for all of your loose change and each time that you drop a coin into the jar, say out loud, one thing you are thankful for.
When the jar is full, use the money then to bless someone. Highly recommend doing this. As a family. I don’t, I like never carry cash with me anymore, so we don’t really do the lose change thing, but for a lot of people, this would still be a great practice. Idea number six. Our DIY gratitude projects.
There’s some really family friendly project ideas. The first one I included is a DIY Thanksgiving tree. I just posted this on my blog. This is one of my favorites here on the East coast when the trees change and beautiful, beautiful colors, I mean the colors of our leaves. You guys are just amazing. This is my favorite time of year in Pennsylvania.
This is an easy no glue craft. You basically take twigs from your backyard. With beautiful leaves, you use a permanent chalk or marker it. It looks like chalk, but it’s actually a marker. And then you write things that you’re grateful for. On these leaves, you take twine, you tie them to the twigs, and then you create this centerpiece, put them in a vase, and you create this really pretty Thanksgiving centerpiece with all the different things on the pretty leaves that you are thankful.
Another idea is, uh, salt dough gratitude tags. I liked this one. I forget the website I found it from. It’s all, it’s all linked. Um, it’s a really fun craft recipe that you basically write the things that you’re grateful for on these dough tags, which then harden, and you can use them as present tags or Christmas tree decorations.
Again, they’d also make great tablescape ideas. You could put one on every plate. A thankful leaf garland. It’s a super easy DIY project. You basically cut out leaves, you string them on twine over a door or again, like that chalkboard idea, and you write the things that you’re thankful for. All, all fall long, all year long.
Lastly, I personally loved this one. I don’t know about you, but carving pumpkins is like such a hassle and such a. Call me lazy. Lazy mom right here. here is a really, really cute idea. Instead of like traditional pumpkin carving, try gratitude pumpkins. So you actually like draw on the face, The kids can decorate it, but then all along the sides, in the back, you write in rows, all the different things that you’re thankful for.
A gratitude pumpkin this year around the Thanksgiving table. I would love for you to consider the words of Charles Spurgeon. He said, It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy that makes happiness. It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy. That makes happiness. What if we could learn to enjoy less?
Enjoy having less. Not about how much we have, but the idea that we could enjoy more by having less. And a huge, huge element of that is being able to replace that mindset. Well, I don’t have X, Y, Z to, I am so abundantly grateful for what I do have X, Y, Z, fill in the. Living with an attitude of gratitude. It is not how much we have, but how well we enjoy what we do have that ultimately makes happiness.
I wish you the greatest of happiness this holiday season as we are coming into a really blessed time with friends and family, and I pray that you are able. To be so grateful for the blessings that you do have, and I, for one, am so grateful for you and the blessing that all of you are to me as listeners.
Thanks for listening to this episode of the Imperfectly Empowered Podcast. I would love to hear your thoughts from today, head to your preferred podcasting platform, and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined, only redeveloped, one imperfect day at a time.
Your story matters and. Are loved.