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Turn Couch Sitting into Better Health

Often we want to have better health but the effort to make big changes, or even small ones, can be daunting. I do hope that you are making successful steps toward better health in 2024. I also want to share with you one powerful way to impact your health positively that won’t even make you break a sweat. In fact, you can engage with this tactic right from the comfort of your favorite chair.

There has been a lot of research over the last 30 years that has shown the positive effects of one specific small habit. This evidence has grown over the years and has gained momentum as a recommendation for all ages. In fact, the evidence for positive impacts on your health with this daily practice is so strong that we could even speculate that not adopting it may negatively impact your health.

This habit is the practice of gratitude. Seems like a kindergarten lesson but the foundation of gratitude in our lives actually helps us build resilience both mentally and emotionally.

The practice of gratitude has been shown to:

-decrease stress

-decrease depression

-improve sleep

-improve mood

-increase optimism

-increase hope

-improve your heart health

Who doesn’t want all of that? And, the added side effect is that if you glean all the benefits listed above you will be better equipped to tackle other healthy hurdles. Practicing gratitude can be a catalyst for better health because it gives you the resilience to put effort into habits that do require effort.

The practice of gratitude can positively impact our physical health, mental health, and our relationships.

So how do we practice gratitude?

The simple part is just saying, “I’m grateful for_____,” and fill in the blank with appropriate good things from your day. Research shows that writing it down is even better. The hard part is thinking of what to put in the blank.

Being able to SEE the good is the true hurdle to being able to practice gratitude. Humans have a tendency to overgeneralize in their day. What this means is that you can have a multitude of positive events happen in a few hours but then if one unexpected event occurs we suddenly forget the multitude of good and get discouraged. We have to learn to appropriately weigh one event as just that instead of overgeneralizing and letting one bad occurrence darken the entire day.

Think of it like a camera. You can use the camera lens to focus in on whatever subject you like. Don’t focus on the short list of bad things. Focus instead on the good things. We are not denying that “bad” things happen (which are usually just small unexpected events that are minor inconveniences) but we are instead letting them blur in the background when we focus in on the positive of our days.

Try it now. Get out a pen or pencil and start writing all the good things from your day in the margin.

Remember even the simplest of things, air to breath, a roof over your head, a job, ability to read, a night’s sleep, etc. Finding good in the things that you take for granted will improve your outlook. Then do the same tomorrow. Your list doesn’t have to be long but challenge yourself to find something different to be thankful for each day.

When we let ourselves get rundown by overgeneralizing small lists of bad events in the course of a day we are actually making ourselves powerless. We let ourselves be a victim to the day rather than being empowered to enjoy the day.

Start practicing gratitude each day (a few times a day) and watch to see how your mental burden starts to lift and you find space to make changes for your health. Even if you “don’t feel like it,” force yourself to open your eyes to the positive in your environment—once that grateful snowball starts to roll it will inevitably gather more gratitude which translates into power to give you a breath of fresh air in your day and a small reprieve from worry.

For more information on how gratitude can positively impact try looking up the Greater Good Science Center on-line.


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