• Better self care

• Increased mental strength and resil- ience

• Higher optimism

• Better sleep; plus, good night's sleep also promotes gratitude • Reduced stress and anxiety • Diminished aggression • Less focus on material goods

Is There a Recipe for a Grateful Heart? I am particularly fond of the way edi-

tor Jeremy Adam Smith describes gratitude in a Greater Good article:

"Gratitude (and its sibling, appreciation) is the mental tool we use to remind ourselves of the good stuff. It's a lens that helps us to see the things that don't make it onto our lists of problems to be solved. It's a spotlight we shine on the people who give us the good things in life."

Believing he lacked a bit of discipline

in the gratitude department, Smith put together a list of six traits he believes set "fantastically grateful people" apart from the rest:

1. Once in a while, they think about death and loss. Also known as "mental subtraction," this involves acknowledg- ing what we do have by reflecting upon what might NOT have been. It's not about doom and gloom, but developing appreciation by looking at all possibili- ties.

2. They take the time to smell the roses. Savoring positive experiences makes them stick more in the brain. Have you ever noticed that the first sip of coffee tastes the best? We have a tendency to adapt to pleasurable things, enjoying them less over time--a phenomenon called "hedonic adaptation." The rem- edy is to temporarily give up the prac- tice.[16]

3. They take the good things as gifts, not birthrights. The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. A preoccupation with the

self will quickly quash any feelings of thankfulness.

4. They're grateful for people, not just things. Expressing gratitude to others strengthens social bonds and increases trust, compassion and affection.

5. They mention the pancakes. Grateful people are very specific in their expres- sions of gratitude, which makes those expressions feel more authentic. For example, they would say, "I love you for making me pancakes on Saturday morn- ings when you know I've had a rough week," rather than, "I love you because you're wonderful."

6. They thank outside the box. This is not a denial of negativity, but rather a way of thinking about the world that turns obstacles into opportunities.

Ideas for Starting a Gratitude Practice The practice of gratitude is about slow-

ing down and looking deeply into your life--past, present and future. In addition to looking for gifts in the present, addi- tional gratitude opportunities are culti- vated by retrieving memories from the past and developing a positive outlook for the future. The following are a few suggestions for developing a gratitude practice:

• Say thank you. Write short thank you notes often. For an even greater impact, write one detailed gratitude letter per month. Consider occasionally writing

one to yourself

• Thank someone mentally. Never un- derestimate the power of your thoughts.

• Keep a gratitude journal. Before bed, spend a few minutes writing down things for which you are grateful. Once or twice a week is plenty. Focusing on interpersonal relationships, as opposed to material things, has been shown to be more impactful.

• Create a gratitude jar. On a slip of paper, write down what you are grateful for each day, and place it in a jar. On a difficult day, pull out and reread a few as gratitude reminders.

• Mealtime thankfulness. Practice shar- ing your daily gratitudes with your fam- ily during the evening meal.

• Meditate or pray. It's much harder to tune in when you're doing, so set aside some time for just being. Meditation offers a panoply of benefits, including thinking more logically and clearly from multiple perspectives.

© November, 2020, GreenMedInfo LLC. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from Green- MedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter at // newsletter.

Gina Davis, FNP-C Gina Davis is a Board-Certified Gina Davis, FNP-C

Family Nurse Practitioner. She has been a nurse since 2003 and has specialized in diabetes management for the past10 years. She is commit- ted to helping others achieve their health potential physically, emo- tionally, and spiritually using a ho- listic approach.She is excited to help those looking to enhance their over- all health for thyroid, bioidentical hormones, autoimmune diseases, and many other issues. Let her help you to achieve Health as it Ought to Be.

336.768.3335 NOVEMBER 2020 15

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