Gratitude – An expression of love that can bring great change into your life.

Something pretty remarkable has been happening to me the last couple days. I have a history of being scared when my husband is away for the night. I used to go to my parent’s house or ask my brother to spend the night on the couch. The feeling was paralyzing and I lived with it for years.

Recently, my husband left on a trip and the fear began to creep in like it always does. This time, I practiced some gratitude and positive thinking: “I am grateful for this beautiful and safe house. I am grateful for two awesome, healthy children.”

There was no room for fear while I stayed focused on the affirmations. Ultimately, I drifted off with all these positive thoughts in my head and had a great night of sleep with no bad dreams.

Assertions of gratitude can serve on a moment-to-moment basis or as a positive habit. I think everyone could benefit by expressing daily gratitude, and here are some benefits:

• Practicing gratitude every day can significantly lower stress hormones. Alternately, complaint – the opposite of gratitude – causes stress and the negative impacts associated with it. The next time you feel like complaining take a breath and give thanks for something. Notice how you feel. You are rewiring your brain to be more positive and loving.

• Gratitude benefits self-esteem, or – as we’re calling it this month – your self-love. If you express the things you are grateful for, you will begin to notice how much you have in your life because of how wonderful and deserving you are. It creates a positive-reiforcement cycle, snowballing in a favorable direction.

• The growing happiness associated with practicing gratitude can lead to healthier food choices, more motivation for exercise, increased kindness toward others and less anxiety and depression, furthering the positive cycle mentioned above.

I encourage you to find a practice that works for you, or create your own. There are even gratitude aps you can get for your phone. I love helping others create their practices, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to do so.

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