For the month of November 2015, during our yoga classes at The Jones Center, we will celebrate the Thanksgiving Season by Opening Our Hearts to Gratitude. What is Gratitude? According to the Dictionary, gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Let’s dedicate our November yoga classes to the mindful cultivation of gratitude. The historical origin of the word ‘gratitude’ is the Latin word gratus which means thankfulness. In India the word for gratitude is Pranam which literally means ‘to offer up all of one’s parts.’
Research has shown many benefits for practicing gratitude:
- Gratitude brings us happiness: Through research by Emmons, happiness expert Sonja Lyubomirsky, and many other scientists, practicing gratitude has proven to be one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness and life satisfaction; it also boosts feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions.
- On the flip side, gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression.
- Gratitude is good for our bodies: Studies by Emmons and his colleague Michael McCullough suggest gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and makes us less bothered by aches and pains. It also encourages us to exercise more and take better care of our health.
- Grateful people sleep better: They get more hours of sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more refreshed upon awakening.
- Gratitude makes us more resilient: It has been found to help people recover from traumatic events, including Vietnam War veterans with PTSD.
- Gratitude strengthens relationships: It makes us feel closer and more committed to friends and romantic partners. When partners feel and express gratitude for each other, they each become more satisfied with their relationship. Gratitude may also encourage a more equitable division of labor between partners.
- Gratitude promotes forgiveness—even between ex-spouses after a divorce.
- Gratitude makes us “pay it forward”: Grateful people are more helpful, altruistic, and compassionate.
- Gratitude is good for kids: When 10-19 year olds practice gratitude, they report greater life satisfaction and more positive emotion, and they feel more connected to their community.
So, let's focus on the things in our lives that we can be grateful for this month, and feel our explode with Thankfulness!
Om Shanti, Peace