I just read this amazing article by Deepak Chopra that not only confirms but also explains what I believe, preach and try to practice all the time: Gratitude. Chopra also talks about the three stages of gratitude. Here’s an excerpt, followed by a link to the full article…
The mind-body connection is quickly coming of age. We’ve moved from the early stage when researchers were challenged to prove that our thoughts affect our bodies. The next stage was focused on how toxic mental patterns can harm us. Now a new phase has dawned, where “positive psychology” is the main focus. To see how this works, a perfect example is gratitude.
In one 2007 study a group of subjects kept a personal journal for ten weeks in which they rated their mood, physical health, and other factors that contribute to being happy. They were told either to describe five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week (the gratitude condition), or they did the opposite, describing five daily hassles from the previous week (the hassles condition) that they were displeased about.
Those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints and even spent more time exercising than control participants did. Similar studies have shown improved emotions when someone who has a chronic illness focuses on an “attitude of gratitude” instead of feeling negative. Similarly, gratitude leads to lower levels of stress hormones.
Now that we know gratitude is good for you, it joins the list of things, including love and empathy that create a biochemical shift in the body. Since gratitude is a mental activity, it’s a powerful finding to show how something totally non-physical can alter the physical activity of the brain. The general lesson here is that the brain responds to positive input and sends life-enhancing messages to every cell in the body.
How can you activate the power of gratitude in your own life? There are three stages of gratitude, each one more effective than the one before. These are:
- Feeling grateful for the good things in your life.
- Expressing your gratitude to the people who have made your life better.
- Adopting new behavior as a result of interacting with those who have helped you.