by Maddie Drallmeier
As Valentine’s Day approaches, we rush to get cards, flowers, and chocolates for our loved ones. Do you get that warm, happy feeling when your significant other or family member surprises you with a token of love? We call this feeling gratitude! But what really is this feeling we call ‘gratitude’ and how can it help us live happier and healthier lives? Gratitude is characterized by two components: One, as an affirmation to ourselves that there is good out in the world and two, that the source of this goodness is from others. Together, these principles can help us to achieve happiness in our own lives!
Several studies show associations between gratitude and improvements in physical health. In one such study, heart failure patients with higher dispositional gratitude experienced improvement in their sleep, less fatigue, and lower levels of cellular inflammation. Additionally, a recent finding suggests that gratitude may prevent chronic disease; subjects with stronger feelings of gratitude had lower levels of the biomarker hemoglobin HbA1c (tied to kidney diseases, cancer, and diabetes). While there are many more studies supporting its relationship with physical health, gratitude has also been associated with other individual benefits such as improved psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased occurrence of burnout, and much more! So how can you cultivate gratitude in your life?
- Tune in to positive events in everyday life
- Reflect on your gratitude in yoga and meditation
- Stay active and fit – take care of yourself and feel gratitude in your health
- Reward yourself with personal perks – massage, private sessions
- Recognize the value of friendships around us each and every day
Not sure if you are grateful? Take the Gratitude Quiz! https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/quizzes/take_quiz/gratitude