Achieve a State of Coherence by Cultivating Gratitude
Gratitude is one of the simplest and most powerful techniques of entering a state of coherence. Gratitude is both a personality trait and a skill that can be practiced and developed. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can be done on a daily basis, and when done sincerely, it can be a truly rewarding practice. Gratitude can quickly bring into balance our inner state of being and our experience with the outer world.
Gratitude is about taking the time to recognize the good things in your life. It is about saying “thank you,” either directly to a person, or silently in your heart. Gratitude is a positive emotion, a positive state of being, an acknowledgment paired with deep appreciation for something or someone that has enriched our life in some way. Gratitude figures prominently among the factors that enhance human life. There are numerous science-backed benefits of being in the habit of gratitude — it is said that gratitude is good medicine that boosts our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. Some of these positive effects of gratitude are:
- Gratitude improves physical health — Gratitude lowers blood pressure, enhances the immune response, and improves the quality of sleep. It alters the body’s chemicals in a good way — for example, it maintains higher levels of good cholesterol, low levels of cortisol, bad cholesterol and creatinine.
- Gratitude improves mental health — People who cultivate gratitude are less neurotic and at a lower rick of developing states of anxiety and depression. By blocking toxic emotions and stimulating positive emotions, the individual experiences happiness.
- Gratitude promotes positive behavioral traits — Grateful people are more optimistic and thus they make better choices, they exercise more, they are less prone to substance abuse and to developing eating disorders, and they establish healthier social relationships.
- Gratitude improves the mood and strengthens the coping mechanisms — Gratitude offers a great support in dealing with the post-effects of a stressful event. Physical symptoms of stress reduce, negative emotions associated with an incident recede, lowering the risk of depression.
- Gratitude makes us less self-centered and better members of the society — Acts of kindness inspire others to also act in a selfless and empathetic way, which in turn creates a positive loop of goodness, and strengthens interpersonal relationships and the social fabric of society.
- Gratitude strengthens close relationships — Expressing gratitude towards the close family members or friends strengthens the bond and makes people more sincere in expressing themselves.
- Gratitude increases the sense of coherence — Psychologists define a sense of coherence (psychological coherence) as a set of beliefs that life is meaningful, comprehensible and manageable. Scientific research has confirmed that people who nurture an attitude of gratitude are good at positive reframing (a process of seeing/interpreting stressful or negative events in positive light).
When you feel stressed, estranged from your environment, divided and anxious, gratitude literally creates miracles. There are many ways in which one can cultivate gratitude. The following list includes a few simple approaches which do not require any special preparations, arrangements or facilitation:
- Journaling — Every day write in your journal at least 5 things that made you feel grateful that day. The things in the list can be anything—from a friendly chat with a colleague in your office to a lucky coincidence (synchronicity) to a compliment received from your partner.
- Gratitude Jar — If you do not (yet) have a journal, you can keep a gratitude jar. Find a large jar, personalize it with a few stickers and decorations, and place it in a dedicated corner of your room. Whenever something nice happens throughout the day, note it down on a piece of paper (you can include colored paper or post-it notes), and place it in your gratitude jar. The jar becomes your visual reminder of all the blessings in your life.
- Saying “thank you” more often — We have a tendency to take the good things for granted. Such an attitude not only deprives you of the opportunity to count your blessings, but it also deprives others of the feeling of being appreciated and significant. Try and develop the habit of expressing gratitude (especially to people) more often. It does not take much to express your gratitude — you can do it by sharing a few words, sending a small card, sharing a small gift, and sometimes even by just offering a genuine smile.
- Heart-Centered Gratitude Meditation — Gratitude meditation is particularly effective when done at the end of the day, as it allows you to embrace and internalize the grace, blessings and fulness of the whole day. During a gratitude meditation, the focus is on the heart, and on the positive, uplifting emotions of acknowledgment, appreciation and thankfulness for all the good people, circumstances, things and events that have touched you and made a positive difference in your life. This exercise immediately puts you in a state of heart-coherence, and your heart begins to send positive signals to your brain, elevating your thoughts and triggering ‘good chemistry’ in your body.
- Engage in volunteering activities — Almost every social organization—from religious to corporate to nonprofit — recognizes the endless benefits of selfless service, both for the benefactor and the beneficiary. Volunteering for a social cause (for the benefit of for those in need) makes you almost instantaneously put your life circumstances in perspective. It helps you understand that all people struggle with some things in life, makes you recognize your privileges, removes your egotism and directs your attention towards others. You slowly become more grateful for the things that go well in your life, but also grateful for the opportunity to be able to help others. It makes you feel more connected with the community, develop a sense of oneness with the whole world, and thus appreciate the gift of life.