According to research:
Dispositional gratitude correlated positively with self-reported physical health, and this link was mediated by psychological health, healthy activities, and willingness to seek help for health concerns.
If you have a high disposition toward gratitude, you are more likely to be in good spirits and report better physical health, according to the study.
This makes perfect sense, but it raises questions.
Are grateful people healthier or are healthier people more grateful? Correlation does not mean causation. Which way does the cause and effect work?
If you don’t have a natural disposition toward gratitude, can you develop one? It would make sense to do so regardless of the correlation/causation issue. A state of gratitude may be one of the more resilient states at our disposal.
If you can develop more gratitude, how do you go about it? Do you just “count your blessings.” Write in a daily gratitude journal? Do these practices actually foster genuine gratitude?
For me, feeling grateful is a warm, expansive state of mind and body. When I’m grateful, I have nothing to complain about. When I complain and then realize how lucky I am in life, my complaints vanish. Sometimes I realize that every complaint I make is the result of a state of mind. Shift my state of mind and the complaint is reframed into something workable. And sometimes the complaint can be dropped entirely without any consequence other than feeling better.
Is it conceivable that much of our emotional angst is related to a gratitude deficit?
Or would that claim offend people who have a lot to complain about? Does anyone who is alive, clothed, fed and sheltered really have anything to complain about? Am I being even more offensive now?
Can practicing gratitude be an act of spiritual bypassing?
Lots of questions about gratitude for which I do not have solid answers. More practice and research to do!