Apr 29, 2014, 06:47AM

Counting Blessings is Good for Your Health

Being grateful is one of the most powerful things we can do.

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Last week things just didn’t seem to go right. Spring arrived just as the air conditioning in my car went on the fritz. I took my daughter’s adorable puppy to the beach and it was a fun day until he threw up in the back seat of my car all the way home. I was upset when I ate like a rabbit and juiced all week only to find I’d gained two pounds. There were a few other things that went wrong, like running the riding mower into the pool pump, but I won’t get into that.

I’m usually not a whiner but did moan to a few friends and family. Then yesterday, I heard of an acquaintance who got a divorce on Monday and then experienced the death of his 12-year-old-son on Thursday. My burdens were suddenly put into perspective. It’s times like that when we think, “I am so blessed.”

Oftentimes, it’s not that we choose not to be grateful, it’s just we let the chance pass Being grateful is one of the most powerful things in our lives we can do. It can open up and miraculously grow. The more grateful you are, the more gifts will come into your life.

Studies show that gratitude is not just a spiritual transformative act but a physical one as well. It reduces feelings of depression by reframing events and situations as positive. Research has also shown that gratitude reduces anxiety and stress thereby improving cardiac health, elevating mood and strengthening our immune systems. Thinking about something you are thankful for before bedtime can actually produce a longer and sounder sleep periods.

We often are thankful for the obvious: our jobs, loved ones and homes, but many things we take for granted are also gifts. Instead of complaining about the AC in my car, I should be thankful that I could get from one place to another. Okay, the dog totally made a mess of my car, but I was fortunate to see and hear and feel the beautiful sights and sounds of the ocean. I added a few pounds to my body but I’m healthy. In other words, it’s good to put our stories on pause and marvel at the small things in this life we are living.

I’ve decided to write down 5 things I’m grateful for every day this week. It will only take a minute but if I can allow myself to show that small appreciation, a larger dimension of my life will change. I’m a big fan of Meister Eckhart and I’m oftentimes reminded of what he said about gratitude: “If the only prayer you will ever say in your life is ‘Thank You,’ that will be enough.”


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