The Challenges and Benefits of Gratitude

The Challenges and Benefits of Gratitude
[four-minute read]

The Cycle of Negativity

You get home from a difficult day at work and set out to mow the lawn before the in-laws arrive for dinner. The lawnmower won’t start, and you kick it in anger. 

Dinner with the in-laws was unusually tense, and you’re emotionally spent. You send them off, climb into bed, and are about to fall asleep when your dog barks at a passing car. You know that yelling won’t stop him from barking, but that doesn’t stop you from yelling anyway.

On your way to work the next morning, you rehearse everything that went wrong last night and almost get into a fender bender because you're so distracted. Frustrated at your own carelessness, you curse profusely and slam your hands into the steering wheel to let off steam.

Life confronts us with new challenges, obstacles, and setbacks every day. We’ve been conditioned to complain about these difficulties in order to cope with them. And if we pay attention, it’s easy to see why. Dwelling on the negative and expressing ourselves accordingly—whether physically, verbally, or internally—provides us with the only relief available to us in the moment. But this lays the foundation for negativity the next time something “bad” happens. Over time negative thoughts become automatic, and if left unchecked make their way into harmless everyday situations, even ones that should otherwise be sources of happiness and delight. Our mental and physical health can suffer as a result. 

The Healing Art of Gratitude

Gratitude is a word you’ve probably heard tossed around in all sorts of circles. You might associate it with New-Age mumbo jumbo, mystics, or gurus. But it’s a millenniums-old art we can learn and practice individually, apart from all the groups that tout its benefits.

The premise is simple: by taking time every day to appreciate all the positives in our lives we can cultivate a lasting sense of inner gratefulness and positivity. Soon, this current of positive thinking pervades everything we do, helping us find joy even in the midst of suffering.

Being grateful for the positives is straightforward enough. But appreciating the negatives is a bit trickier. To do so, we must learn to look at the obstacles and setbacks not as “bad” but as “challenging.” We can overcome, learn from, and use them to improve our future selves. 

Implementing these thought patterns can take time, but the benefits are surprisingly immediate.  In the short term, we’re moving through life with a pep in our step, ready to face the challenges of life with renewed vigor. 

There are powerful long-term effects of practicing gratitude as well. University of California, Davis professor Robert A. Emmons has conducted research that shows that practicing gratitude can improve mental and physical health. That includes lowering blood pressure, boosting immune function, and improving sleep quality. On the psychological side of things, it can decrease stress, and help relieve depression and anxiety.

Until we’ve made an effort to combat them, It’s hard to see just how thoroughly negative thoughts and feelings permeate our lives. But once we do, we’ll find that the benefits of gratitude are well worth the effort. So try it out for yourself. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Let’s Practice Appreciation Together

At Oats Overnight, we believe that a mind fed with gratitude is a powerful tool for personal growth. When combined with a body that is nourished by healthy daily rituals, positive change happens. We want to fuel your goals through a premium breakfast and a community of support that practices gratitude and mindfulness daily. Join us as we journey together. 

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