Practice Gratitude: a recipe for health and a long life. Cover image for the blog on Find My Energy website.

Practice gratitude: a recipe for health and a long life

“Remember to Say Thank You!”

How many times did you hear grown-ups say that to you when you were a child? But did anyone ever explain how important those words are? If not (which is quite normal…nobody explained this to me), then you are about to find out why learning to practice gratitude is so much more than just social politeness.

Do you practice gratitude in your daily life?

I am probably not the first person you have heard talk about a gratitude diary or gratitude practice. This has been a common concept spread by mental health professionals, self-help books and so on for decades. No, not decades, but centuries…our ancestors were far more aware of the importance of gratitude than we are (for the most part) in modern society.

“Whatever you are waiting for, be it peace of mind, contentment, health, it will surely come. But only when you are ready to receive it with openness and gratitude. Of all the characteristics needed for both a happy and morally decent life, none surpasses gratitude. Happiness and health are the just rewards for living in gratitude.”

Benjamin Franklin, from Poor Richard’s Almanack

Maybe you already have a Gratitude Practice in your day. Or maybe, you’re a little more like I was and this whole concept seems very ‘lovely and fluffy’, but of little use in practical terms. Believe me, nobody is more surprised than me to discover that I am writing an ebook advocating a Gratitude Practice!

Not that I have been ungrateful throughout life – I was brought up to write Thank You letters when I received gifts. I was taught the ‘good manners’ that included saying thank you. But I never thought about the importance of making the time to reflect on it more deeply than as a passing courtesy.

So, let me delve a little deeper.

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Does practicing gratitude really work?

You do not have to look very far to find people who will say a resounding “yes”. Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to mental health organisations, to the many different publishers of Gratitude Journals.

So, with that many advocates, is this really something worth doing? Or is it just another of those fads designed to offer you a ray of hope when nothing else is readily available?

What the science says…

Science says that when you practice gratitude, it does actually manifest positive change in the brain. It activates areas including the ventral and dorsal medial pre-frontal cortex. (In English, the areas that involve feelings of reward, bonding with others and empathy). It releases positive neuro chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin (feel-good chemicals). This alleviates stress. And if you have already read some of my other blog posts about stress and trauma, you will understand why that is so critical to your healing.

On a cellular level, Dr Bruce Lipton has highlighted other positive changes. Did you know that a gratitude practice can actually extend your life? You are best to watch this wonderful ten-minute video that Dr Lipton has created, for a full scientific explanation. But let me try and distil this in case you are unable to watch the video.

How learning to practice gratitude could extend your life…

I am going to assume you know the importance of your DNA in creating you and keeping you alive?  Well, at the end of each strand of DNA is something called a Telomere. This appears to be just ‘extra DNA’. At first glance, it does not contain the main DNA programming for your cell – just a ‘spare part’. So why would that be there?

Well, each time a cell needs to divide and replicate, this process cuts off the end of the DNA structure. So, as long as you have a Telomere in place, this is the part that is being cut off, and the main DNA structure, with its critical programming for your cell, remains in-tact. Thus, your newly divided cell will reproduce itself perfectly.

However, unless this Telomere is infinite, at some point the reproduction process will run out of Telomere to cut off, and then it will begin cutting into the critical DNA programming. In other words, your cell begins to age or deteriorate.

Practice Gratitude: a recipe for health and a long life. Cover image for the blog on Find My Energy website.

The fountain of youth

So, is the Telomere infinite? Not precisely. But it is the next best thing. It is capable of constantly re-growing. So, what makes it re-grow? It contains an enzyme called Telomerase and that enzyme causes the Telomere to re-grow.

Behaviours and environmental factors can deactivate Telomerase. For example, poor nutrition, or circumstances like living in an abusive or violent environment, PTSD, loss of love or loss of self-love, lack of purpose. In other words, psychological factors that make life seem undesirable or worthless.

However, on the other side, positive environmental factors can activate and maintain this enzyme. As you might expect, good nutrition and exercise are two factors. But also, a positive outlook, self-love, love, happiness, gratitude and purpose – being in service to others in some way. These are the psychological factors that subconsciously tell the body, the enzyme, the cells, that life is desirable and you want more of it.

Dr Lipton explains this as being like “A fountain of youth in every cell”. And note, the cell sits in the ‘physical’ realm. Some of the factors that affect its health and longevity also sit in the physical realm (diet and exercise). But the majority of the factors affecting the health and longevity of this physical element actually come from the mental and spiritual realm. So, right there, you have the scientific evidence supporting this idea that separation of physical, mental and spiritual is, at best unhelpful, at worst, completely false and damaging.

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What are you waiting for? Learn how to practice gratitude today!

I am sure these are not the only proofs of why gratitude works. You can hunt out more for yourself if you wish to delve deeper. But I hope these facts illustrate why it is a good idea to start a Gratitude Practice.

If you’re not sure where to start, I have the solution. My gratitude ebook will give you a simple daily practice. Plus help you to overcome any obstacles that might be standing in your way right now.

When we are in a place of great suffering, it can be difficult to feel grateful. I learned that. I also learned how to overcome those challenges and find gratitude in the most unlikely places! So, I’m sharing those secrets with you in my ebook.