When my family was taking a break from screen life and enjoying nature this past week, I spotted this beautiful tree and took a picture of it. It was not until I got home and enlarged it that I discovered the heart carved into it. That little glimpse gave me such pleasure and I suddenly became so grateful for that lovely tree and wondered what the story behind the carved heart was. Just focusing on such an everyday thing as a carving on a tree made me realize how something we take for granted so easily can be suddenly a practice of gratitude.

Gratitude was the touchstone this week as we all celebrated Thanksgiving, many of us spending it alone or just with present members of our family rather than our usual family gatherings because of the current conditions of the country health-wise. Although this was a difficult task, many of us rose to the occasion, not only to safeguard ourselves and our own immediate family members but to those we do not know. This helps us to acknowledge our community of people who care about each other. Did you know that this type of positive emotion can result in physical health as well? A positive mindset helps your immune system and speeds up recovery time should you be ill.

According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people. They are also more likely to take care of their health including exercising more often and more likely to have regular health check-ups, which can increase longevity. A leading gratitude researcher, Robert Emmons, has done several studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms the fact that happiness is increased with gratitude and even helps to reduce depression. He sees gratitude as a power ~ a power to heal, to energize, and to change lives. Here is his description of gratitude:

So why wait until Thanksgiving time to talk about gratitude? I realize that it is something to do each and every day ~ count my blessings and focus on abundance rather than scarcity. So much of what is happening today with the health issues and the economy can make us fearful ~ when we dwell on those things we feel out of control. It is been said that gratitude can change your life by reducing your fears….it is hard to be grateful and fearful at the same time.

Perhaps just the act of focusing not on living in a state of scarcity but instead taking time to move into a more positive state by simply writing down all the things you are grateful for on a daily basis which hopefully can help you see all the beauty around you, even a tree with a heart on it. 🙂

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