Think about all those grandmothers out there who are waiting for thank you cards and not sending more checks until they get them. Grandmothers know, and research supports, that something as natural as saying thank you can encourage more kindness. Gratitude is the glue that holds us together in family, work and community. Here’s how to bring gratitude practice more fully into your life.

Studies have shown that gratitude is embedded in our evolutionary history, our brains and even our DNA. All types of living creatures from fish and birds to humans participate in “reciprocal altruism,” or what we might call, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.”

According to an article published by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley entitled “The Science of Gratitude” by Summer Allen, Ph.D., “A handful of studies suggest that more grateful people may be healthier, and others suggest that scientifically designed practices to increase gratitude can also improve people’s health and encourage them to adopt healthier habits.”

How can you bring gratitude into your life? Here are five simple ways:

  • Start a gratitude journal by writing down three things every day that you are thankful for.
  • Say thank you for all gestures of kindness offered to you today.
  • Write a short note, email or text message to someone who is important to you and let them know how much you appreciate them.
  • Stop and savor the moment when you are walking outside under a blue sky.
  • Put a visual reminder where you will see it every day that prompts you to feel grateful in the moment.

Take one minute and follow along with Marcy B. Newman, the Employee Whole Health program manager at the Phoenix VA Health Care System, as she shares a simple gratitude practice.

 

Learn more about how relationships can have a positive impact on your health here: https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTH/Veteran-Handouts/docs/RelationshipsandHealth_Final508_07-25-2019.pdf.

By Andrea Young is a field implementation team consultant and communications specialist with VA's Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation

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Published on Feb. 28, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.6 min.

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