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The Health Benefits of Gratitude

How to Cultivate Good Health with Expressions Of Thankfulness 

Blog icon featuring benefits of gratitude

In Zoology, the definition of altruism is the behavior of an animal that benefits another at its own expense.

This is an excellent reminder to get discounted tickets for Wild Lights at the Zoo before Dec. 14th, and to engage mindfully with the idea of giving… something that’s probably already on your mind.

What does giving have to do with gratitude? Lots! For it is often an expression of our thankfulness and connection with another person.

Need giving be selfless, even at our own expense? Perhaps not! Giving from gratitude can take many forms, and has many benefits.

We invite you to tap into gratitude as you contemplate giving this Holiday Season.  And to create a habit of gratitude as an intentional health benefit both for yourself and the people in your life. Look forward to both giving and receiving. Intentional giving is beautiful, whether there is a promise of return or simply an expression of animal altruism.

It’s OK to give when you know you’re going to get something good in return. 

Gratitude is a measurably reliable source of happiness. Forbes reported that people who practice gratitude experience higher self-esteem, improved physical strength, and increased mental strength. (1) Who wouldn’t welcome some extra resilience this time of year, not to mention better sleep?

Cultivate deeper connections, reduce reactivity and aggression, and improve empathy by courting gratitude. Here are some sustainable ideas for giving as a way to express thankfulness and create your personal gratitude practice.

Write It
Keeping a gratitude journal has been proven to help its author exercise more, have fewer symptoms of physical pain and have increase optimism. (2) You can also write personalized thank you and Holiday cards. The human touch, the pause, the meditation and reflection of expressing thankfulness in the written word has profound effects on your heart as well as the receiver. Writing can tap your creativity and the emotion in your heart and this has healing benefits for your mind.

In our office, we put up a Gratitude Tree for people to hang paper leaves with their mini gratitude lists. We love to watch it bloom each December.  All are welcome to add to its bounty!

Sing It
There’s a preciousness in hearing a song sung just for you. I love my birthday voicemails from my mom and sisters, who don’t shy away from belting out their anthem. Whether you join a group to sing carols in a home for elderly or simply in your shower, singing shows a grateful heart.

You can also tune into your favorite radio stations or create playlists to intentionally cultivate gratitude or celebrate the season. For a free and thoughtful gift, curate a loved one a playlist. Admittedly maybe not quite as awesome as a mixtape, but certainly a labor of love. Make and celebrate new memories with your favorite music this year!

Music really sets the mood for healing. Here’s what we’re listening to this Holiday season.

Make It
Improve your dexterity and psychological health by getting crafty for the holidays. Making things is such an act of love. It shows thoughtfulness, a recognition of what they like or remind you of. Let the person you are gifting to be your muse!

Earrings are an excellent gift. Here’s how-to make a pair in 10 Steps.
Framed Cross-Stitch is a kitsch and thoughtful gift sure to get a laugh and be loved. Source your designs from Etsy!
Scented Massage Candles make for a romantic Solstice, recipe with lush organic oils here.
Soap is actually a pretty complex gift to make, but certainly, a good skill to have. It’s always a good idea to have a creative outlet, not to mention a side hustle! The idea here is to do something you love for someone you love. This could be your new joy! Here’s what you’ll need to get started.

You can also go to makers and show your gratitude for them making these things for you at local Craft fairs such as Urban Craft Uprising this weekend! A real win-win if you can’t swing all the supplies to get started; but do not be deterred from making things, it can be medicinal.

Why are we doing all this, again? In a word, to cultivate a life that is truly lived. Whether you say thank you to the stars at night, or dedicate an evening a week to serve in a soup kitchen, sharing gratitude makes it alive, and it makes us truly alive.

We believe in living a wise and deep life, in being comfortable in our body, mind, and soul. Living is a verb. Gratitude is its action.

Share It
Share what you love and value with the people you care about.  Consider giving the gift of an experience this year, be it a walk around Greenlake, to the zoo for Wild Lights, or maybe to see the Orcas when warmer weather returns.

Share Winter- Drive to the mountains for skiing or snowshoeing! Our region is rich in natural beauty. Share it with the ones you love.

Share Health- Massage makes a wonderful gift. Contact us to learn more about giving Massage as a gift this season both to loved ones and yourself. It is so important to take care of your body and soothe it through stressful times.

Share Community- Look into ways you can share your time and bounty with others. Whether you volunteer at a soup kitchen or partner with us to support the Ballard Food Bank, sharing in this way can sink deeply into the soul.  Sharing resources with people who may be struggling to make ends meet can also meet the needs of those who can give a little, and help a lot. Community is a part of humanity, even greater than that. It is a part of all life.

To learn more about giving with us through our yearly Gratitude Month campaign, reach out and connect with us. We’d love to share the power of community with you and express our thanks with the gift of health. Together we can make a difference.

We hope this has inspired you to cultivate a habit of gratitude and to honor your natural expressions of connection with a mindful gift exchange this Holiday Season. Make your life beautiful on purpose, and share it with others!

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Resources

Morin, Amy in Forbes 7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude that will Motivate you to Give Thanks Year-Round
Emmons, R. and McCollough, M. from Highlights from the Research Project on Gratitude and Thankfulness