Doing Life Together

worshipping-god-2101347_1280Emily walked in to my office a little irritated. “I am in pain. Someone told me to be grateful. Why would I be grateful? You don’t believe in such nonsense, do you?”

Actually I do and here is why. Even with pain, there are so many other parts of your life… moments, experiences that are positive if you chose that focus. Gratitude is a state of thankfulness and appreciation. It is an attitude, one most of have to cultivate because it is easy to focus on the negatives in our lives. It is something we can choose as an area of focus. And when you are fighting pain, it can make a difference.

Being grateful doesn’t mean you ignore pain, rather you choose not to let pain define you or your day.

Think about this. Have you ever received a letter of thanks from someone you have helped? Maybe you mentored a young adult or helped someone in a difficult time. How did you feel when you read the words of gratitude or appreciation expressed? When someone expresses gratitude, it makes us feel good. It creates positive emotions and even feelings of happiness.  One reason for this is that expressing gratitude can release the bonding hormone, oxytocin. This physiological release decreases the release of stress hormones like cortisol and promotes health.

The science of gratitude is linked to a host of health benefits. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and boost the immune system related to cardiac health to just name a few. When dealing with chronic pain, gratitude helps sleep. If you want to sleep better, try counting your blessings instead of sheep. Rehearse a blessings of the day when you put your head on the pillow. When you rehearse the goodness of God, the blessings of the day before you go to sleep, it relaxes you and puts you in a positive frame of mind. The more you focus on the positive benefits of life, the less worry and negativity fill your mind. Gratitude helps decrease feelings of depression and anxiety as well.

When we focus on what we appreciate about others and about our life despite the challenges we face, it puts us in a positive state of mind. So even though you are in pain, practice being grateful and see if your pain goes down. 

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