I don't know about you, but when I take the time to compliment someone, it really adds to my day. Checking out at the grocery store, some days I'm tired and I am busy thinking about my comfy clothes and stack of books that are waiting for me to go and just relax. But when I take the time to have a simple, but pleasant conversation with the clerk, I feel happier.
When I pass someone and I smile at them, it makes me feel better. When I thank the server for filling my bottomless glass of water, my gratitude gives back to me because I am polite. If I take the time to compliment someone on what they are wearing, their hair, or for something meaningful they said- it makes a difference.
For years, I've heard of people keeping gratitude journals for a year, where they take the time to write down one thing each day they are grateful for in their lives. And I've heard nothing but good results. And sometimes I would jot something down.
And then a year ago at a conference on healing from childhood sexual abuse, the presenter shared that survivors had an increase in their heart health and even chemical changes in their saliva- along with the mental and emotional benefits of taking time to acknowledge and show gratitude. Ever since then, I've tuned in to research here and there about the impact of gratitude on our health. And consistently, the results have shown the same thing, time and time again (though I'm still trying to find the study on the changes in saliva and how that's a good thing).
Partners who shared gratitude and appreciation with their partners found that not only were they happier, but they were actually better able to share the not so great things with their partner in a better way [Lambert NM, et al. “Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Leads to More Relationship Maintenance Behavior,” Emotion (Feb. 2011): Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 52–60].
Other researchers found that gratitude provided an invisible layer of protection against heart attacks (University of Connecticut). Dr. Lisa Aspinwall at the University of Utah found that gratitude strengthened the immune systems of research participants, and other studies showed better outcomes for those having surgery or dealing with AIDS when they had more gratitude in their lives (WebMD).
This year, Women Managing Stress wants to connect with you in a slightly different way. I want to help your stress level by focusing on the positive, and what better way to do that than with The Gratitude Project? For one year, I'm challenging you to join me to record at least one thing each day you're grateful for in your life. You can do this in a journal, through poetry, through art, by taking photos of the things you're grateful for, through a blog or your Facebook/Twitter accounts, through whatever makes you happy! And since today it's January 3rd, I won't tell anyone if you back date it a couple of days so you're up to date. If you happen to join us later in the year, then your year runs starting from the date you decide to join us! (And if you happen to miss a few days during the course of a year, no one will know. It's more important to pick up where you left off and just keep go!)
- Together, we'll record our gratitude daily for a year. Do it in whatever way works for you. I'm keeping my daily morsels of gratitude in a journal. I've got a pic of it that I'll share with you in a couple of emails!
- Sign-up here to be a part of The Gratitude Project (life's always more fun when we share it with others instead of doing it alone). Twice a month, I'll send you an email. In it, you'll find encouragement to keep going and not put this off to the side, some of the latest research on the benefits on gratitude, and even some neat extras. Some of those extras will include free webinars during the year, mp3's that you can listen to and even download to your iPod, and videos that I'll make just for The Gratitude Project.
- And lots of interaction together and even with others in the project! I want to hear from you along the way. Share some of the treasures you find. Send pictures. Share your insights. It's really a fun way for us to get know one another while reducing our stress and getting so many other benefits along the way!
So make sure you put your first name and email address below. It's that simple.
This kind of reminds me of The Julie/Julia Project. When she started off, she had no idea where it would lead her, but she was determined to try something new in her life. Who can't try something new and fun that promises all kinds of benefits?
What do ya say?
I hope you'll join me! Let this be the year to say good-bye to stinking thinking and hello to happiness and health!