Gratitude makes us happier. That’s what many spiritual traditions maintain. Did you also know that gratitude, and process of learning and adhering to the idea of choosing to be grateful, can be quantified?
Recent Harvard scientific research has found that grateful people of various religious affiliations:
- Show higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, and optimism
- Experience lower levels of depression and stress
- Have more capacity for compassion
- Are rated as more generous and helpful by other people
- Are more likely to have a spiritual practice
- Place less importance on materialism.
- Are more likely to make progress towards important personal goals
- Exercise more regularly.
- Report fewer physical symptoms.
- And report a persistent feeling of being healthier.
And what’s even better about this recent research, is that it comes at a time of year when being grateful, blessed, and thankful is not just a far-reaching platitudes but comes by way of vibrant, visual, seasonal reminders, as well as national celebrations too!
Personally, I like to maintain a gratitude journal. I’m a paper person. When I write down everything I am grateful for I am more optimistic, more compassionate, more centered in my daily walk. Journaling does not make my struggles seem easier, but problem solving seems more obtainable when I switch my overall focus from what I have in abundance, what I have been blessed to have and possess, rather than what I perceive to be in devoid of. Counting your blessings help you see the beauty in being fallible, and how fleeting life, for good or for bad, can truly be.
With this in mind, during the Fall 2016 season, my family and I are taking up the challenge of counting out blessings in a living, visual, affordable capacity, with Blessing Tree Stations.
These blessing Trees are essentially gathered twigs from my front yard, adorned with upcycled, punched scrapbook stars. Each star acts as a notepad to list out daily blessings, and are hung by copper wire on our “trees.” I mounted the trees to each side of my dining-room arches, to allow our blessings to be in our sights during out paths throughout our home. I also inverted and mounted a set of silicone baking mitts to hold sharpies, the punched leaves, and pre-cut wire coils, to ensure easy access during our daily exercise.
As for the bases, I am using two inexpensive wicker cornucopias for under $1.00 each, and so these two baskets acted as both seasonally-derived decor options, and the perfect vessels for my Blessing Tree Stations.
Thus far, I have loved this exercise. Seeing what everyone is grateful for. When reflecting on this exercise it occurred to me that some people to whom I am grateful to are dead. Mind you, this is a natural idea for me, and so when I see members of my family mention a loved one who has been called home, I’m great with this too.
Also weekly, we recap our written blessings over the past week during our Sunday morning breakfasts. That was very powerful for me to be able to hear and experience just how blessed my family has truly been over the past week.
So friends, if you want to see whether these ‘gratitude interventions’ make you happier, I encourage you all to consider creating a Blessing Tree in your home as well.
So, what is your experience of gratitude? I’d love to hear about it below!
Here’s to fall,