With the Thanksgiving holiday in America, November is a time when people often focus on the concept of gratitude. You see it all over social media this time of year, people making a pledge to post 3 things daily for which they are grateful. It’s a wonderful practice, and I’m glad that we have a holiday that encourages people to stop for a moment and give thanks. It makes us all feel good to do, but did you know that having an “Attitude of Gratitude” is actually good for you?
In his article “Why Gratitude Is Good”, Robert A Emmons, Professor of Psychology at UC-Davis and scientific expert on gratitude describes the outcomes of several studies that he and his colleagues have conducted on the topic. It wasn’t so surprising to see the psychological and social benefits of actively practicing gratitude. It makes sense that grateful people seem more joyful and pleasant than those who tend more toward negativity. But what really struck a chord in me were the many physical benefits of practicing gratitude. The research showed that people who regularly practice gratitude had stronger immune systems, fewer complaints of aches and pains, lower blood pressure, a greater tendency to exercise and make healthy choices and experienced longer and more restful sleep. WOW!
When I was a student at the Institute of Thai Massage in Chiang Mai, Thailand, we began each day with an hour of yoga and Tai Chi exercise to warm our bodies up for the practice of Thai Massage. Before we began our actual massage practice we would focus our minds and intention by participating in Wai Khru, an observance that is practiced at the beginning of every Thai massage. As a group we would recite a mantra in the Pali language which roughly translates to an offering of thanks to the founder, Doctor Komarpaj, for sharing his knowledge, and an expression of gratitude that with the knowledge we are able to use our touch to impart health and happiness to those we serve. While I still silently practice Wai Khru at the beginning of each Thai massage, I think I will begin a new habit of starting each day at the office with an exercise of gratitude. I am truly grateful to do what I love each day.
Want to join me in cultivating an “Attitude of Gratitude?” There are many ways, you just have to find out what works for you. Some people keep a daily/weekly gratitude journal, some people give thanks through prayer, and don’t forget the obvious…simply say “Thank you” when someone does or says something for which you are grateful. For some creative ways to get your gratitude on, check out this site.
I will close this post in the manner that I close each Thai massage, with a wish for your well-being…