Healing Through Gratitude
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” — John F Kennedy
Gratitude is a favorite topic of mine, especially around this time of year. In a recovery environment, gratitude is used as a healing modality in itself. According to Wikipedia, the definition of gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. Gratitude is an emotion that occurs after people receive help, depending on how they interpret the situation. Specifically, gratitude is experienced if people perceive the help they receive as (a) valuable to them, (b) costly to their benefactor, and (c) given by the benefactor with benevolent intentions (rather than ulterior motives).
Leaders in the healing arena have indicated that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.
These leaders have also suggested that grateful individuals have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, reinterpret and grow from experiences, and spend more time planning how to deal with problems. Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try and avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use. Grateful people sleep better, due to thinking less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.
Therefore, when you find yourself criticizing others or feeling/saying that, “It is never good enough,” look at how your thoughts parallel your relationship with your body, your perfectionism and perhaps your unrealistic expectations of others. Coming back to a sense of gratitude can help put things in perspective.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. “– Melodie Beattie.
In the treatment center that I formerly ran, weekly gratitude letters were encouraged by our clients to the person of their choice, followed by the mailing of these letters from our office. This worked, at that point in time, as staff mirrored gratitude. Consider applying these principles respectively and, in turn, with your clients. Have a happy and healthy holiday season, along with an abundant new year.
BEVERLY S PRICE is a certified eating disorder registered dietitian and iaedp supervisor, experienced registered yoga teacher and IAYT certified yoga therapist. Beverly is recognized for bringing mindfulness-based yoga to the eating disorder treatment community along with yoga therapy training programs in eating disorders for professionals. Beverlysprice.com
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders and not intended as endorsement by iaedp Foundation or its Board of Directors.