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The Gratitude Latitude 

The first thing I do each day is have a cup of coffee and write down 5 things I’m grateful for.

The split up of a romantic relationship, even when the parting is amicable, can cause sadness, grief and depression. These feelings can last for a for a short time and in some cases as a long as a year or two. Focusing on the positive and cultivating gratefulness on a regular basis can help us to rebound as well as become healthier and happier more quickly.

Father embracing son at home

Gratitude is about an attitude, a way of living and looking at the world. Latitude means to choose, to embrace the freedom to focus on the good. For many it increases joy.  We all need that!

1. Both science and research support the benefits of gratitude. Below are links to clip from a respected researcher, and a classroom lesson, and a highly respected motivational speaker and author. 

Brene’ Brown discusses the connection between gratitude and joy.  She shares “I thought the relationship between joy and gratitude was that if you are joyful, then you should be grateful.” Only to find out “Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives.”

Classroom Lesson: A Moving Story about Gratitude Each child has a simple drawing to stand for what they were grateful for. When Simon draws a hand, the class takes turn guessing who’s hand it is.  Notice the joy in the kids as they share what they are thankful for.

Brian Tracey and the Four A’s of Expressing Gratitude.  Brian shares the first “A” is Appreciation. “Take the opportunity every day to thank every person for everything that he or she does, small or large in the process of carrying out their duties. In your home or at your work.”  When I reflect on that statement, I realize the joy it brings me, and the joy it brings to others. Watch the entire clip to learn more.

Being grateful on purpose is just as effective as spontaneous gratitude. 

2. Why and How Does Gratitude work?

Gratitude simply said is being thankful. It can mean being thankful for possessions, people, a state of mind. We can be grateful and thankful for anything.  Psychologists have defined gratitude as a positive emotional response that we perceive on giving or receiving a benefit . . .” Emmons & McCullough, 2004

The effect of gratitude is physiological and psychological.  A 2017 study on the effect of gratitude studied the heart rate of individuals when they were experiencing gratitude. Heart rates went down, indicating they were more relaxed.  Kyeong, Sunghyon et al. “Effects of gratitude meditation on neural network functional connectivity and brain-heart coupling.” Scientific reports vol. 7,1 5058. 11 Jul. 2017, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05520-9

When we are relaxed, we can reduce pain, strengthen our immune system, and lower our heart rate and blood pressure. Relaxation is the door opener to joy. When our body is tense, happiness is typically NOT present at the same time.

Being grateful on purpose is just as effective as spontaneous gratitude. 

3. How to Practice Gratitude

Practicing gratitude can happen in many ways.  Some people keep a journal.  I keep a running note in my iPhone.  The first thing I do each day is have a cup of coffee and write down 5 things I’m grateful for. For others, like Brene’ Brown and family, it’s part of their dinner tradition to go around the dinner table, giving each person the opportunity to say what they are grateful for.  Not only does it place the focus on gratitude, but it also gives insight into our family members and what is important to each of them. In a hurry? Use the time in the car to say out loud what you are grateful for. In any case, make sure that you connect emotionally to the feeling or gratefulness. That will give you the largest benefit.

Peaceful hispanic female with closed eyes keep hands to heart

Summary

I wanted to share this message because practicing gratitude changed my life. When my older brother died, I struggled with grief.  Almost 2 years after he died, I still felt as if my heart was covered in scabs. I went from being a happy, cheerful person, to someone who was often sad. Within a few weeks of starting my daily gratitude practice, my moods got better, and I found my happiness and easy laughter returning.  If you are feeling sad, grieving the loss of your relationship, I urge you to give a daily gratefulness habit a try. Its proven to bring more joy into your life!

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Written by Robin & Heather

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