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Special occasions like the holidays and birthdays are always times when it’s good to practice gratitude, but they can also be reminders to keep gratitude into our lives in an ongoing and meaningful way. These practices are just one way to generate a feeling that in time will fill your heart with appreciation and love

The more we practice, the more grateful we feel. When we feel grateful, our sense of meaning grows

It takes attention, awareness, and regular practice to keep the feeling of gratitude flowing in our lives. The more we practice, the more grateful we feel. When we feel grateful, our sense of meaning grows. Just like complaining can become a habit, so can cultivating gratitude. It’s contagious. When my friends share their feelings of appreciation and gratitude, it inspires me to shift my own self-talk. It has a kind of “pay it forward” feeling to it.

Researchers at the University of Connecticut found that gratitude can have a protective effect against heart attacks. Patients who had already experienced one heart attack and saw benefits/gains from their heart attack (such as becoming more appreciative of life) experienced a lower risk of having another heart attack. Often Ornish Lifestyle Medicine participants will express their humble gratitude for how the program has changed and enhanced their lives. This feeling allows the energy of the heart to be expressed while opening up a pathway for appreciation to flourish. Because the muscle of gratitude is like any other muscle, here are some ways to get in shape.

1. Keep a gratitude journal

Write down five things you are grateful for and get the flow going with a more positive start to your day.

2. Meditate on a feeling of gratitude

By placing your attention in the heart center, imagine something you are grateful for and let that feeling fill your own heart.

3. Make something negative positive

Take a difficult situation and find something in it that you can be grateful for.

4. Sit in silence before you eat

Send some gratitude to all those who are involved with bringing you the food. Those who grow it, harvest it, deliver it to you, and cook it for you.

5. Reflect on your day

When you’re falling asleep at night, think of one thing you were grateful for during the day. Let it lift you up and carry you into a deep and peaceful sleep. These practices are just one way to generate a feeling that in time will fill your heart with appreciation and love.

How will you practice increase gratitude in your life?

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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