Many nations hold a variety of events to express gratitude for their nations’ harvests. I’d like to share a different perspective on giving thanks, four real benefits of gratitude, a free in-depth e-Booklet The Appreciative Heart.
Measuring someone’s gratitude is quite literally possible with today’s cutting-edge science and technology. So how exactly do you measure gratitude – scientifically?
Offering some food for thought this Thanksgiving – apart from turkey and mashed potatoes – the Institute of HeartMath® (IHM), a recognized leader in researching the physiology of emotions, is serving up a belt-buster when it comes to the latest understanding of gratitude.
According to research at IHM, true feelings of gratitude, appreciation and other positive emotions can synchronize brain and heart rhythms, creating a bodywide shift to a scientifically measurable state called coherence. In this optimal state, the body’s systems function more efficiently, generating a greater balance of emotions and increased mental clarity and brain function.
The level of coherence you experience during feelings of appreciation can be measured by sensitive instruments. Coherence also can be measured using heart-rate variability (HRV) –the naturally occurring beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, which can be see in an electrocardiogram (ECG).
Measuring coherence can accurately show heart, brain and nervous-system interactions that are sensitive to changes in emotions.
While an individual is experiencing coherence, the heart rhythm appears as a smooth wavelike pattern on an HRV graph. Contrast coherence with incoherence, created by negative emotions such as frustration and anger, which can often disrupt the synchronization of the body’s systems and create jagged or chaotic patterns on a graph.
Advanced research at the Institute of HeartMath and elsewhere has provided evidence that gratitude is not simply a nice sentiment or feeling. Sustained feelings of gratitude have real benefits, including the following four benefits:
- Biochemical changes – Favorable changes in the body’s biochemistry include improved hormonal balance and an increase in production of DHEA, the “anti-aging hormone.”
- Increased positivity – Daily gratitude exercises can bring about a greater level of positive feelings, according to researchers from the University of Miami and the University of California, Davis who studied this process in 157 individuals over 13 days.
- Boost to the immune system – The IgA antibody, which serves as the first line of defense against pathogens, increases in the body.
- Emotional “compound interest” – The accumulated effect of sustained appreciation and gratitude is that these feelings, and coherence, are easier to recreate with continued practice. This is because experiencing an emotion reinforces the neural pathways of that particular emotion as it excites the brain, heart and nervous system.
Thankfully, gratitude and appreciation can create their own positive psychophysiological holiday in your body – without the necessity of a feast. Sincere self-evoked feelings of gratitude and appreciation are explained in-depth by IHM founder Doc Childre and Director of Research Dr. Rollin McCraty in their e-book, The Appreciative Heart: the Psychophysiology of Positive Emotions and Optimal Functioning.
This publication explains how emotions are reflected in heart rhythms, and how creating a change in those rhythms can result in quick and substantial changes in whatever emotional state you may be experiencing.
A gift for you! Click Here to download a free copy of The Appreciative Heart.
The Institute of HeartMath is helping more people experience the benefits of the sincere feelings that Thanksgiving celebrates by providing the following helpful exercise:
Take a few short appreciation breaks during the day. During each break take one or two minutes to breathe deeply through the area of the heart. While doing so, try to hold a sincere feeling of appreciation in your heart area. This can be appreciation for a family member, friend who helped you with something or even a wonderful vacation, etc.
- Why it works:
The exercise of activating a positive feeling like appreciation literally shifts our physiology, helping to balance our heart rhythms and nervous system, and creates more coherence between the heart, brain and rest of the body.
Click here, for a more in-depth appreciation tool and exercise.
Gratitude is a simple and effective practice and the benefits are real and attainable. Many of us know this in our hearts, but now it’s proven by modern science. Gratitude creates a healthier, happier and more fulfilling state of being for anyone who takes a few moments to feel and reflect on it.
Here in America, where the nation prepares to celebrate its official Thanksgiving Day, I would like to wish you and your families a Happy Thanksgiving – wherever, whenever and however you celebrate your bounty.