Gratitude is Good Medicine
by Madiha Saeed
Stress, work and family routines can trap us in a pattern of negative thinking that feeds on itself and creates stress and unhappiness. With our internal and external worlds being bombarded these days with negativity, being optimistic is more important now than ever before.
Gratitude is not just a feel-good word. It is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has—a universal concept in nearly all of the world’s spiritual traditions. Practicing gratitude daily is proven to have actual physiological consequences. It helps lower inflammatory markers, influences epigenetics, improves the immune system and even helps the heart, adding years to life.
Optimism has been found to correlate positively with life satisfaction and self-esteem. “Heartfelt” emotions like gratitude, love and caring produce coherent brain waves radiating to every cell of the body, as shown by technology that measures changes in heart rhythm variation and coherence.
Our subconscious governs 90 percent of our thoughts and actions. It shapes our every behavior. But the subconscious mind is nothing other than neural pathways that have been established in the brain as a result of past beliefs and conditioning. Our subconscious does no thinking of its own, but rather relies on our perception of the world around us, interpreting verbal and nonverbal cues.
When we consciously turn negativity to positivity from the inside-out, the neural pathway associated with negativity will take time to come down fully, so it is critical to practice gratitude regularly. Upon waking in the morning, say 10 things that you are grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal. Put sticky notes all over the house with gratitude messages—on photos, light fixtures, fans, exercise equipment—to create a zone of subliminal positivity.
Remember that our perspective can reflect either our pain or our power. That choice is in our hands. Know what you are grateful for each day.
Madiha Saeed, M.D., ABIHM, is the bestselling author of The Holistic RX, an international speaker, founder of HolisticMomMD.com and director of education for KnoWEwell.