After spending my Memorial Day weekend camping and paddle-boarding out at Twin Lakes, CO and feeling refreshed and rejuvenated as I always do from time spent in nature, I felt the desire to write about gratitude.
What is Gratitude?
Psychology Today writes about gratitude as the following: Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth. This social emotion strengthens relationships, and its roots run deep in evolutionary history—emanating from the survival value of helping others and being helped in return.
While I was out on my paddleboard in the middle of the lake, staring off into the mountains in the distance, feeling completely at peace and relaxed, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. It completely took over my thoughts and I felt it physically. I noted a sense of complete presence in the moment and absolute contentment.
I have often read about gratitude in many books and articles and try my best to practice gratitude on a regular basis.
There is a need to reflect on the myriad of things to be grateful for. From the simple fact of just being alive to having a roof over my head, food to eat, all the way to having gratitude for all things on this earth, the trees, plants, fungi, rocks, soil, air, sun, and all of the human beings that I share this beautiful planet with. When you extend out from the obvious low-hanging fruit type of things you’re grateful for such as your loved ones, or material possessions, one needs to recognize all the little things in our lives that we take for granted and be grateful for them.
Being grateful and having a deep sense of gratitude fills one with energy (both physically and mentally), happiness and resilience. It helps us to stay in a positive frame of mind and avoid falling into the pitfalls of negative thinking. Research shows that people who are more grateful have better overall health, have more robust immune responses and respond better to stressors in their lives while being less likely to suffer from depression. Fostering gratitude may also encourage one to engage in other healthy behaviors that lead to better health outcomes and wellness.
There are many practices one can take to express gratitude in their lives.
Spending time with or connecting with loved ones, family and friends, and letting them know how much they mean to you. Taking time to write in a journal and express what you are grateful for on a frequent basis. Reflecting on events in your life and what positive lessons they taught you or how they made you a better person. Spending time in nature and recognizing all of its beauty. The energy and spirit that exists in nature has been with us throughout our long evolutionary history and gives us much to be grateful for.
Remember that this simple act of being grateful on a daily basis, for even the littlest things, can have a big impact on our overall health and especially on our mental health. The more thankfulness and positivity you express, the more you attract that same positive energy into your life.