Wellness Wisdom features real women who understand that good health underpins every area of their lives. Learn how these women prioritize well-being despite busy schedules.
In this week’s Be HEALTHistic Extra, we explore the importance of expressing gratitude. Find out how this practice benefits the mind, body, and soul.
Results may vary for each individual based on their unique background, dedication, desire, and action.
1. Embracing Gratitude
Whether you see the glass half full or half empty, your attitude can make all the difference in your happiness. Fortunately, gratitude is one of the most powerful tools for finding lasting joy and well-being. Studies show that people who practice gratitude regularly experience fewer depression symptoms and sleep better, among other benefits. But it can be hard to feel grateful when life throws you curve balls. It’s important to remember that embracing gratitude is not about turning a frown upside down or brushing off the negative, but rather about transforming your perspective and embracing the gifts that come with each moment.
How you choose to respond to the challenges of life will shape your wellness wisdom and your relationships. Grateful people are more resilient, and they are more likely to express kindness and generosity to themselves and others. Grateful people are also more optimistic and less reactive to adversity, and they are more likely to exercise regularly and make healthier food choices.
If you’re not sure how to cultivate gratitude, try writing a gratitude journal. Pick a time each week to sit down and write about what you’re thankful for. Be specific and think about how each of the things you’re grateful for makes you feel. Over time, you’ll start to notice more and more positive moments in your daily life that you can be thankful for.
Alternatively, you can try the “counting your blessings” exercise that was used by McCullough and Emmons in their 2003 research. In this exercise, participants were divided into three groups and asked to complete a weekly report. One group was told to list the things they were grateful for, while another group was instructed to list their daily irritations. The third group was asked to describe how their day went. Across 10 weeks, the groups that listed their blessings were more satisfied with their lives than those who focused on their frustrations.
Other ways to increase gratitude include prayer, mindful meditation, and reflecting on what you’re thankful for during your daily routine. Try tuning into your senses and noticing the little things that bring you joy, such as the sun shining through your blinds, the sound of birds chirping, or a delicious smell that reminds you of home.
2. Embracing Joy
If you’ve ever had a bad case of the “blahs,” or if you just need a little more happiness in your life, there are some simple daily habits and mindset shifts that can help. Happiness is a critical component of wellness wisdom and has been linked to increased vitality, lower stress levels, stronger immune systems, better sleep quality, and even improved memory.
Unlike hedonic wellness wisdom, which focuses on bursts of pleasure, such as the joy of a good cup of coffee or a funny movie, true joy is a deeper sense of inner peace and contentment. It’s the spark that keeps you going on tough days and can help to prevent burnout at work and home.
One way to increase joy is through giving back and engaging in acts of kindness, which not only makes others feel happy but also helps you develop a greater sense of meaning and purpose in your life. Additionally, by pursuing hobbies and activities that bring you genuine joy, such as painting, writing, or running, you can experience the satisfaction of accomplishment.
Place to start
A good place to start is by finding out what brings you joy, then focusing on those activities as often as possible. For example, if you love spending time with your friends or family, plan fun outings with them and try to make these a regular part of your schedule. This will not only improve your mood and overall happiness, but it will help you build and maintain strong relationships.
In a similar way, when you find an activity that excites and inspires you, set a goal for yourself and then create a plan to work toward it. This can be anything from finishing a book to signing up for a race, and it will help you feel more engaged with your life and encourage the development of positive relationships.
This approach to wellness wisdom is known as the PERMA model, which was developed by Martin Seligman, and stands for Positive Emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievements. Many people confuse hedonic well-being and happiness with the concept of flourishing, which is more than just being happy; it’s about leading a full life. This includes having close relationships, maintaining healthy lifestyles, serving others, and practicing a spiritual or religious faith.
3. Embracing Compassion
Embracing compassion is important not only for your own mental health and wellness wisdom but also for those around you. In fact, the more compassionate you are to yourself, the more likely you are to be kind and supportive toward others. Dina talks about the distinction between empathy and compassion, explaining that while you can understand where someone else is coming from, you can only show them compassion if you are willing to help them in some way.
One way to foster compassion in yourself is by using positive self-talk and comforting physical gestures. For example, when you notice the critical voice in your head, instead of fighting it, try speaking to it in a caring and loving tone, saying something like, “I know that you’re feeling very badly about what you said to that friend. It wasn’t your fault, but I understand how painful it was for you.” You can also use positive self-talk and comforting physical gestures when you experience failure. For instance, if you eat something unhealthy or make a mistake at work, tell yourself that it’s okay to mess up sometimes and that you are doing your best.
Another way to practice compassion is by engaging with a community that fosters it. This can include a support group, a meditation or yoga class, or just hanging out with people who are caring and supportive. A community that focuses on compassion can help individuals feel more resilient, find peace, and have more joy in their lives.
Research is demonstrating that compassion training can also have a real-world impact, changing the way people react to difficult situations. For example, one study found that people who underwent compassion training reported less racial bias than those who didn’t. Dina explains how this happens, and she discusses the importance of showing compassion for those who are suffering from the effects of injustice and oppression in our society.
Finally, she discusses how compassion can be used to improve business culture and performance. She cites studies that show compassionate leaders are more effective and efficient at work than their non-compassionate counterparts. She also discusses some of the ways that a company can demonstrate compassion, including encouraging employees to donate their time and money and providing training on mindfulness, meditation, and compassion.
4. Embracing Self-Care
The term “self-care” is often used to sling skin creams and spa days, but it’s actually much more than pampering. Self-care encompasses all the activities you do to prioritize your mental, physical, and emotional health. It’s what keeps you healthy, happy, and thriving in life.
Embracing self-care means identifying and prioritizing what your needs are and providing for them on a daily basis. This includes things like rest, exercise, nutrition, spirituality, and social engagement. It also encompasses setting boundaries, expressing emotions, and seeking support when needed.
Start by brainstorming all the things that bring you joy or make you feel centered. It could be anything from the time you spend with family to a certain scent, exercise, or music. Once you have a list, decide how to incorporate these activities into your routine and how often. Remember, it’s best to start small and then build your way up.
Another aspect of embracing self-care is identifying and creating a plan to address any negative stressors. Everyone has responsibilities and commitments to others, but taking time for yourself helps you be a healthier and happier person, especially when times are tough. It’s similar to the advice we hear on airplanes about putting your own oxygen mask on before assisting others.
Lastly, it’s important to recognize your successes on a regular basis. This will not only boost your mood but will remind you that it’s possible to create change and lead a balanced and thriving life.
No matter what challenges you’re facing, it’s important to remember that there are people who care about you and will help guide you through these difficult times. Reach out to your family and friends and don’t be afraid to seek professional help if needed. You’ll be much more equipped to assist those around you when you’re feeling your best. If you need extra support, you can even find a local group or organization that supports individuals going through hard times. There are many resources available for those in need. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to go it alone.