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HomeFRONT PAGEGratitude heals, energizes and changes lives

Gratitude heals, energizes and changes lives

It brings happiness, prevents diseases like hypertension, heart attack,
stroke & cancer Lt. Gen. (Retd) Mahmud Ahmed Akhtar
Former Surgeon General Pakistan Army

Two decades ago, a land-mark study led by the psychologist Robert Emmons sought to understand how people benefit from gratitude, a question that scientists had rarely explored until then.

Lt. Gen (R) Mahmud Ahmad Akhtar

Dr Emmons who suggested that gratitude may improve psychological well-being inspired a spate of additional research. To date, numerous studies have found that having a grateful outlook “counting one’s blessings” and expressing gratitude to others can have positive effects on our emotional health as well on our inter-personal and romantic relationships.
Some studies have shown that gratitude can benefit physical health. Gratitude heals, energizes and changes lives. Dr Emmons said, “it is the prism through which we view life in terms of gifts, goodness and grace. Here is why gratitude is so powerful and how can we incorporate it into our daily lives.

What is Gratitude

Gratitude is a positive emotion that can arise when you acknowledge that you have goodness in your life and that other people, or higher powers, if you believe in them, have helped you achieve that goodness. In other words, the sources of good things lie at least partially, outside the self. But feeling is only half the equation. Expressing gratitude is equally important to reap the benefits of the emotion; said Dr. Emmons

How Does It Benefits You

Many studies have asked participants to write letters of thanks to list the positive things in their lives and then measure the effects of those acts. The results suggest that performing these types of activities provide mental health benefits. Multiple studies have shown that expressing gratitude to acquaintances, co-worker, friends or romantic partners can offer a relationship boost and helps bind more closely, said Sara Algoe, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has researched how gratitude aids relationships.

What is more, when analyzing people’s dispositions, researchers have found that those who are prone to experience gratitude in their daily lives have lower levels of depression and sleep better. Gratitude not only improves the well-being of the giver and the recipient but it may also be good for those who witness it. Watching an act of gratitude between two people can cause an observer to feel warmth and affinity towards both of them. For example, gratitude has also been associated with lower blood pressure and in one pilot study, lower levels of heart rate variability, a marker of well-being.

One Moment a Day is Enough

The studies on gratitude do not indicate how often we ought to express gratitude or how to put it into practice, but many experts believe that a small dose of gratitude once a day is ideal. “I think the benefits of gratitude activities truly unfold through long-term habits”, said Joel Wong, a professor of counselling psychology at Indiana University School of Education who is studying whether expressing gratitude in a six-week group program can help people with depression.

To develop an enduring gratitude habit, try thinking your gratitude practice in an already ingrained routine. It is especially useful at difficult times. To avoid spiraling into negative thoughts, be thankful what you can do and not let yourself focus what you cannot do. Gratitude allows us to look at what we do have and to feel abundance.

Although many studies have shown the value of writing a letter expressing appreciations, it does not have to be lengthy or time-consuming. A quick email or text can do the trick. Be specific in offering thanks. Specify matters because it deepens your experience of gratitude. It intensifies our grateful emotion and thoughts. The act of writing slows down our thinking process and allows us to ponder more deliberately. By writing, we retain a permanent record of our blessings. We can return to our gratitude journal months or years later to recall what we were grateful for. Gratitude improves physical, mental and spiritual health. It brings happiness, prevents diseases like hypertension, heart attack, stroke, cancer etc. and prolong lives.

We in life, must pay our gratitude to the Creator and the Creatures. Somewhat rightly narrated, God gives and forgives, man gets and forgets.


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