Updated: Jul 9
Sometimes, as busy moms, we get so caught up in the stress of the things that need to be done, that we forget to stop and appreciate how good our lives actually are. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can make us happier and more patient with these beautiful kids.
Benefits of Gratitude.
There have been many research studies over the last few years about the health benefits of a gratitude practice. You can probably imagine that gratitude would help your mental health, but did you know it can also improve your physical health too?
According to research at Berkley University here are some different benefits that Gratitude can have on your life:
Stronger immune systems
Less bothered by aches and pains
Lower blood pressure
Exercise more and take better care of their health
Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
Higher levels of positive emotions
More alert, alive, and awake
More joy and pleasure
More optimism and happiness
More helpful, generous, and compassionate
Feel less lonely and isolated.
Gratitude can make you healthier, happier, and able to get along better with others. We often think we need a good life in order to be happy, but being grateful for the things we do have can make us happier and enrich our lifes. So, it isn't being happy that makes us grateful, it is being grateful that makes us happy. Making this mindset shift can have so many benefits to our lifes. Here is how we can make the shift.
Gratitude Changes Your Brain.
Many of the benefits of gratitude can stay with you for a long time, even if you only keep up a gratitude practice for a short time. In another study at Berkley, they had university students seeking mental health treatment (in addition to receiving counseling) write gratitude letters to people in their life for 3 weeks.
In addition to finding positive psychological outcomes, the study found that there were changes in brain activity even 3 months after the participants had written the gratitude letters. This can show that by starting to be more grateful, we can start to rewire our brains to be more grateful and happy in a lasting way. (How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain (berkeley.edu))
This is a very promising idea to me as a mom, because it makes me think that by teaching my kids to be more grateful now, I can help them create happier futures for themselves.
What is a Gratitude Practice Anyway?
There are several ways to start a gratitude practice, but the main thing is that you are taking time to think about the good things in your life, and being grateful for them.
Gratitude Journal - Starting a gratitude journal is an easy practice to incorporate into your daily life. You can get a special journal to write in, either in the morning to start your day, or before you go to bed. Write down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. It helps if you make them specific and timely. That means, don't just write the same things every day, write something you are grateful for that happened that day! You can be grateful for something as simple as a warm cup of coffee, or a story that you read with your kids. This helps you to have more appreciation for your daily events, and to realize that even in a bad day, something good still happened!
Gratitude Letters - Like in the research study cited above, you can write out letters to people in your life that you are grateful to. You don't have to give the letters to the people you write to, it is a good activity for yourself regardless. Or, if you do give them out, it can help to "pay it forward" and keep the positive energy moving! This can be a fun activity to do with kids too, since their minds are so creative. Kids love to give out gifts, and this is a gift that would really warm someone's heart.
For Toddlers - Since little ones can't write, we can encourage them to be grateful by asking them things they are grateful for. One of our nighttime yoga videos asks to think about 3 things we are grateful for. My toddler will list out the three things while we do yoga. This is a great activity to do with kids before bed, since it can get them into a calm and happy mindset. It is also fun as an adult to hear the things that kids are grateful, since most of the time they are simple things. My daughter often says that she is grateful for running, jumping and candy. Listening to kids can help us be grateful for the little things.
By being grateful, we can be more present with our kids. Instead of worrying about what comes next, we can enjoy every moment that we spend with them as special. This helps us to create a sense of mindful presence, in which we can look at the things around us and appreciate them, giving us even more to be grateful for.
We can also teach our kids gratitude at a young age, and help them start a practice that can benefit them all through their lives.
Gratitude and Giving
When we are grateful for the lives that we have, and the beautiful gifts that we experience in this world every day, it has also been shown to make us more giving. I think that is because gratitude encourages us to have open hearts, and to appreciate things more. When we appreciate what we have, we are more apt to notice when other people are going without, and want to help them! At least, that has been my experience.
For more on gratitude and how to incorporate it into your life, check out this video:
Please let me know in the comments what you are grateful for today! Be well my friends! <3
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