At the best of times, when everything is going well for you, gratitude springs up naturally. You might feel thankful for your job, spouse, kids and community. You might even make a habit of keeping a gratitude journal and sending off handwritten thank you cards.
When you are sick or in the hospital, thankfulness becomes much more specific. You might well up with gratitude for a compassionate nurse who makes you more comfortable, a doctor you credit with saving your life or a friendly tech who chats with you about your golden retriever while wheeling you to imaging.
Those feelings are natural and, it turns out, they help you heal. Studies have shown that positive emotions like gratitude cause your body to release chemicals that promote healing. Some have found that a conscious focus on gratitude results in greater well-being and physical health, including lower stress levels, lower blood pressure and better immune function.
How do we cultivate gratitude? Here are some suggestions from the experts:
- Take out that gratitude journal again. A daily practice of committing your gratitude to paper helps you find your inner happiness, even on the most trying of days.
- Say thank you. Handwritten notes are nice but for everyday interactions, a simple verbal or email thank you, delivered with sincerity, will give a boost to you and the person you are thanking. See your barista glow when you tell him or her that your latte is perfect. And, a direct thank you to your nurse will make their day.
- Make donations to organizations that make the world a better place. Nonprofits rely on philanthropic support to fulfill their missions. If you are glad they’re in your community, make a gift at whatever level you can afford.
- Accept the gratitude of others when it comes your way. Don’t deflect – you earned it! A gracious response will make the person thanking you feel good about having spoken up.
Did someone at Overlake earn your gratitude? Please tell us about it! Email your gratitude story to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Overlake Medical Center is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with a mission to provide compassionate care for every life we touch. To learn more about how the community supports us, please visit overlakehospital.org/support.