Living in a state of gratitude allows for new possibilities in your life to take form. It takes conscious effort to begin shifting your state of being, but when you do, it can dramatically change your life. If you’re trying to improve your health, happiness, or any area of your life, you must first come from a place of gratitude. However, this fast-paced, busy lifestyle that we live in can cause us to easily get disconnected from our body, which can also cause us to focus on what we don’t have or what is going wrong in our lives. Unfortunately, when we get overloaded with everyday life, it sometimes takes a hardship, a decline of health, or a holiday to make us slow down and review what it is in our lives that bring us joy and makes us truly grateful. When we are grateful, it makes us lighter and happier, and when we feel good, it makes it easier to reach our health goals; because let’s face it, in times of stress and negativity, we are the most vulnerable. Let’s first take a look at negative emotions to see why it can be difficult to break away from them so that we can begin living in a state of gratitude.
Negative Emotions Are Addicting
Emotional addictions can be just as powerful as addictions to all drugs of abuse if they become frequent and are repeated long enough. Serotonin, dopamine, and GABA are just a few of the neurotransmitters in the brain that influence our emotions, feelings, and passions. They can easily get out of balance due to a variety of things, such as diet, disease, external stimuli, as well as both environmental and genetic factors. Further, when we experience any strong negative emotion like agitation, worry, judgment, or low self-esteem, the body begins to crave more of the same and will seek out situations that will produce the desired result.
If you’re unconscious of negative thought patterns in your life, they can literally take over and control how you begin to think, feel, and act. For instance, you start your morning with agitation towards your spouse or coworker, only to find you are feeling rushed and overwhelmed to finish a project, which carries on to feelings of sadness about some lack within your life. If you do not put awareness towards this emotional addiction, then it can continue building momentum and carry on with you. Pretty soon, a few days, a week, or even a month passes and you either blow up, have a meltdown, or just crash. Consequently, your health and mood begin to suffer because strong emotions are stored in the body’s tissues and can manifest in disease and illness if suppressed; it’s a vicious cycle. It would make life much easier if we were wired to be addicted to happy thoughts and emotions like we are with negative ones…right!
There are obviously many physiological and physical reasons that one could be emotionally addicted or conditioned to the negative pattern of thinking and feeling, but first, it’s important to recognize this so that you can begin to develop new patterns of thinking and feeling. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with anything, the more you practice and the more you put attention towards it, the easier it becomes.
Exercises to Begin Living in a State of Gratitude
Gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion because it not only produces the feel-good chemicals in the brain and body, lowers cortisol, and improves health, but it can be used in almost any unpleasant situation in life to shift your energy from the negative to the positive. Things in life happen all the time that we don’t always have control over. By incorporating a few of these principles, you’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards gratuity!
Awareness is being conscious of your thoughts and feelings, the messages that your body is trying to tell you, and the environment in which you are in and the people you interact with. One way to raise awareness is to set an intention in the morning or in the evening to be more present in your day. When you are present, it allows you to be grateful for what you have now, and it draws more of the energy to meet that vibration to you, just like in the Law of Attraction- what you focus on, you attract.
Studies have shown that as long as the necessities of life such as food and shelter are met, additional wealth or material goods have very little effect on happiness. Happiness is not attained by something outside of us; it’s an internal state. Meditation is incredibly powerful in so many ways, but two specific things that it can do is create more happiness and peace in your life and allow connection to happen with your higher self, which is so important in this crazy world! When you are connected with your higher self, your life begins to flow with ease.
3. Act of Giving
We’ve all heard the expression, what you give out you receive back. One way this works is that it elicits feelings of gratitude when you give of your time, attention, words, or actions. It also makes you happy, and when you’re happy, you’re automatically living in a state of gratitude.
4. Verbally Express Your Gratitude
One of the easiest ways to bring more gratitude into your life is by saying it. The next time someone does something nice for you or does something small to show they care, make sure to tell them. It may not seem worth expressing at the time, but words can have a powerful effect, both in how it makes you feel as well as the other person.
So instead of letting the emotional addiction control you, practice allowing gratitude to flow through you and begin to see the leaps in your health and happiness that you’ll make because of it!
I'm Meagan Reynolds- a registered dietitian and certified functional medicine practitioner in Nashville, TN who teaches people how to reclaim their health so they can be the brightest version of themselves. My specialty is in thyroid disease and the many symptoms associated with it. I'm passionate about helping my clients find the root cause of their symptoms and supporting them on their healing journey.