Gratitude Benefits: The Art Of Being Grateful

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Dorine Lam, RDN, MS, MPH

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Mindset Matters in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Gratitude benefits in the recovery from adrenal fatigue/Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) is a condition few look forward to. For those in advanced stages, the sense of disappointment and discouragement is often an uncontrollable part of the recovery journey even in the best of professional hands. Those who successfully recover from AFS usually are educated about the condition at the psycho-neuro-endocrinological level. They are very patient, and have a positive mindset especially during the many setbacks along the way. These patient’s optimism and gratitude benefits them greatly in their recovery from Adrenal Fatigue.

Gratefulness will only hasten the recovery process. Negative thoughts trigger negative energy forces that retard the healing process. The more you focus on being grateful and thinking positively, the faster you recover making it one of the best gratitude benefits. The direct and positive link between having a positive mental attitude and reducing stress on the stress hormone and autonomic nervous system’s integrity is well established. Indeed, the key components of the body can be controlled from our mind when it comes to advanced Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome.

Even if you are struggling, you’re likely to be grateful for something. You want to be thinking of matters that make you feel good. Expressing positivity to others and yourself and living with a sense of gratitude benefits us with a good feeling that cannot be generated by medicine.

When you feel grateful, your mental clarity improves. This sense of gratitude benefits you because you become more keenly aware of the big picture of life and what really matters. Understand that it is not foolish to focus on gratitude as a simple and secure way to a more enchanted life. The world becomes a friendlier place to live. Everything around you, from flowers to people that bother you, begin to look different and make you smile. You are less controlled and held hostage by society’s values, but more by your desire to live your life fully according to what you have on hand. You start to live in the now, abandoning the chains of parental expectations, peer pressures, career requirements, guilt feelings, and unrealistic financial expectations. Our body becomes flooded with a sea of positive energy that optimizes health. Life becomes juicier, allowing us to wake up every morning excited to experience the new day, even when energy is low.

With a positive attitude, you will see advanced AFS is not a curse at all. Yes, it may rob us of vitality, but that is only temporary. It is the body’s way of reminding us to slow down and be grateful for what we have, and challenges us to live our lives surrendering to our body’s wishes: a return to simplicity and simple abundance. For too long, we pushed our bodies too much. We focused on what we wanted, ignoring the body’s signals and signs. AFS returns us to a stage of harmony with our body. AFS is that window of opportunity for us to regain insight into the body that we never would have taken the time to do so otherwise.

This sense of gratitude benefits not only your recovery but ultimately provides a blueprint to a happier life. Gratitude, therefore, unlocks the fullness and is the elixir of life. It is a mental tool readily available and best of all, free. It turns denial of AFS into acceptance and embraces the fact that AFS will make us better human beings. It transforms the frustration and disappointment of what is apparent chaos to the realization that the body is in charge in an orderly fashion in its infinite wisdom. It erases confusion and in its place, a sense of clarity emerges. It has the miraculous power of consistently turning a mundane meal into a welcome feast, a house filled with disharmony into a loving home. Gratitude benefits can help transform the body and support its self-healing process. Gratitude makes sense of our past, no matter how much of a burden it is, relieves our guilt, reduces our shame, brings joy and peace for today, and creates a healthy vision for tomorrow, allowing the body to reach its maximum self-healing potential.

Gratitude benefits are a critical and important component to the law of attraction. When you are grateful for what you have, you create a powerful energy field that returns to you an abundance of positive energy and love. One of gratitude benefits is that it is a gift that once mastered, will never stop giving. The absolute quickest way to recover from advanced AFS, from a mental perspective, is to attract everything you desire in your life. This is best accomplished by being grateful for everything you already have.

Gratitude is Not Easy

We don't know every mechanism of action, but gratitude benefits is good for you!Practicing gratitude, despite its many positive attributes, is easier said than done. Most AFS sufferers tend to have high achieving Type A personalities—marked by hostility, impatience, efficiency, pro-activeness, competitiveness and dominance. They are results-driven, and seldom have time to stop and smell the roses. Demands on themselves and from family, friends, and society often create a self-imposed burden of high expectations and performance standards. Research has shown they are more prone to cardiovascular disease and death from heart attack. Society on the whole encourages such aggressive warrior like behavior. In recent decades, researchers have discovered the key expressions of Type A traits that are most problematic. They are negative traits like depression, hostility, inability to forgive, anxiety, and anger. These traits can be separately grouped into a personality type the field of psychology call Type D (for distressed) personality to be more specific. Both of these personality types are most at risk for AFS.

On the flip side, relaxed Type B’s personalities tend to be less at risk for AFS from a stress perspective, though not immune. They are relaxed, easy-going, taking problems in stride, and socially extroverted. They enjoy a better quality of life and suffer less serious health issues. One study published in 2010 that followed 500 men for fifteen years found that the optimists in the study had a 50 percent lower risk of heart-related death than those who had a more pessimistic view of life. They may not be able to get a lot done in life compared to those who are Type A in terms of chores, but they also tend to live longer, and oftentimes, are more successful socially.

Gratitude benefits are not easy to accomplish for those that are Type A or D. Those that are already more calm, content, optimistic, and have a positive social personality tend to have an easier time. Those who are angry, anxious, and depressed will find gratitude easier said than done. However, all is not lost. Gratitude can be learned if you work hard. Those afflicted with AFS, especially in the advanced stages, don’t really have much of a choice if they are determined to recover. The same obsessive-compulsive personality traits that may be triggering AFS can now be used constructively. Along with proper nutritional support, emotional cleanliness, adrenal breathing exercises, inner strength rebuilding, and re-balancing of the autonomic nervous system, gratitude training is a tool to help facilitate the recovery process. The more they are carried out in a unified and comprehensive program, the faster the recovery.

Practical Gratitude Benefits and Exercises

Gratitude benefits are clear and it is something that you can learn, practice and develop. It is a skill, like success, happiness, and playing a musical instrument. This new skill, once mastered, will give you a deep sense of calm and contentment, well-being, optimism, and happiness. Like a well-raised child, it is a gift that never stops giving. So, how can you bring more gratitude into your life? Below are a few gratitude exercises we recommend:

1. Practice Gratitude as the First Thing You do After Waking Up

Start your morning thinking about the things that you are thankful for. Do this as soon as you wake up in the morning before you even eat breakfast.

2. Seeing Life Through Another’s Perspective

Gratitude benefits to a healthy lifeWhen we live in a materially rich life, very often we are blinded to the good things and we tend to stop feeling appreciation for them. Negative emotions and a sense of despair can creep in, especially when you are in an adrenal crash. Even worse we begin to feel restless and start to believe that the grass is always greener on the other side. You should therefore try to see your life through the eyes of another. This will allow you to appreciate more deeply the material advantages that you have and begin to feel grateful for those things in your life that you have taken for granted. Even you who may be bed-bound and unable to do activities you once did, can realize that things could be much worse. Think of those who have really serious medical problems that may be life threatening, and remind yourself that AFS may be a blessing in disguise at the end of the day because you can recover and lead a new life of simple abundance. When we see things through the eyes of others we often develop empathy, understanding, compassion and tolerance.

3. Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal

Make it a habit before going to bed each night to write down in a journal the five thing about the day for which you are grateful. Your entry for each of the five things can be as short as one sentence. Try to write down how those five things have helped make you feel more positive about your life. This is very easy to do yet it will bring you a positive outlook on life and peace of mind.  Studies have shown that people who wrote down five things that they were grateful for that past week reported fewer physical problems and spent more time working out but most importantly, they felt fully 25 percent happier than those who wrote down five daily hassles from the previous week. Of course, studies such as this one cannot prove cause and effect, but most of the studies published on the topic of gratitude support an association between gratitude and an individual’s well-being.

4. Count Your Blessings

Create a list of one hundred things that you are grateful for in your life. On a sheet of paper, draw four vertical columns and under each column write down the following headings: assets (things you own), people (your relationships), qualities (personal qualities and character traits), and experiences (places you’ve visited and things you’ve done) and place the one hundred things in the appropriate column.

5. Send a Thank You Email

Gratitude benefits you and others: Sending a thank you card can have a big impactTry sending a gratitude email or a thank you note to a person in your life who you have never properly thanked and tell that person how your life has been positively influenced by them. Everyone likes to be thanked, and pretty soon, like a boomerang, you will start receiving thank you emails from those people you have sent your emails to and your relationship with them will also greatly improve.

6. Gratitude Rock

Get yourself a small rock that you can carry around. Attach it to your key chain. Every time you look at it or feel it, remind yourself how much you have to be grateful for day and night. They can include statements like:

  • “I am so happy that I woke up and am still alive!”
  • “I am so happy that I am able to complete some of my work!”
  • “I am so happy that I have one good friend!”
  • “I am so happy I have stable energy today!”
  • “I am so happy I feel good today!”

7. Practice Gratitude Before Each Meal

Think about the people who work hard to bring food to your breakfast table, such as the farmers who grow the vegetables, and especially those family members who prepare your meal if you are not making it yourself. Many with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome have limited dietary choices. Be grateful that this is only temporary and as you heal, those restrictions may be lifted. Lastly, you can say a simple prayer for the nutritious food that you are about to receive.

8. Gratitude Sharing

Talk to a friend or a family member and share what you are grateful for with each other. This will create a positive emotional sharing experience and make you and those around you feel much better about themselves. Social support encourages healthy behaviors, because we often lack the discipline to do things on our own. If you spend more time with people who are more grateful, you will find that you will begin to feel gratitude much more easily. Hanging out can be a draining experience. Ask your friends over for a short afternoon tea or a short walk. Keep it short, but focus on quality time.

9. Replace an Ungrateful Thought with a Grateful Thought

there are many gratitude benefits you can enjoyThink of one ungrateful thought per day, and change it into a grateful one in your mind. For example, if you are scolded by your boss at work, you can simply replace that thought with a grateful thought such as how very lucky you are to have a boss who cares about you and is willing to take the time from his or her busy schedule to point out your mistake so that you can do a better job at work the next day. If you feel you are not regaining your energy as quickly as you should, change it to the grateful idea that a slow healing process is fundamentally stronger and more stable than a quick one, and that is perfectly okay. Besides, there is really no rush.

Conclusion: Gratitude Benefits Us All

More than most people, AFS sufferers are held hostage to the ups and downs of the body’s energy reserves and cycles because of their low energy reserve. When the reserve is too low, the body heads towards physical incapacitation. It is forced into inactivity in order for the body to have time to refill the energy reserve. When energy is high, most people tend to overdo things, draining their energy reserve quickly. Being cognizant of this cycle and proper balancing is key to a successful AFS recovery. If not properly addressed, the never ending roller coaster cycle ride eventually can worsen the AFS state, resulting in a higher sensitivity to stress and frequent adrenal crashes. Longer and lagging recovery times become the norm, and failures of timely rebounds become prevalent as one ages. It is common to be normal one day and wake up exhausted and bedridden for the next few days in severe cases.

Negative mental outlooks drain us of precious energy already low in supply for those in advanced stages of AFS. Gratitude is an invaluable mental tool that has mind body effectiveness. Practicing gratitude along with our specially developed adrenal breathing exercises, adrenal restorative exercises and adrenal yoga exercises, can help bridge and stabilize difficult periods. Its effectiveness is especially prominent when the body does not seem to cooperate. At times of anxiety, depression, insomnia, frustration, disappointment, despair, a sense of impending doom, and hopelessness, use gratitude to help the body shed the negative mental cycle and bring peace and tranquility back, which will help reset the energy cycle. Many have reported an almost instantaneous positive benefit once you master this process.

Practicing gratitude benefits also include help in preventing adrenal crashes as it brings mindfulness to our decision making, giving our prioritizing of daily events a more logical base instead of succumbing to our fleeting feelings that can be devoid of logic.

Practicing gratitude therefore accelerates the overall AFS recovery, regardless of the stage. The more you practice, the faster the law of attraction bought on by gratitude will kick in. Other attributes to healthy living will be drawn into the body as positive energy for self-healing.

Some of us are born with an innate sense of gratitude and optimism in place. Those who have faith in a higher power find this process easier. Those who are cynical in nature, having had bad experiences with people or society, may find it more challenging. Gratitude is a skill, much like learning a musical instrument. The more you practice, the better you become. Along with adrenal breathing exercises, these are two freely available critical tools that can be great accelerators for the recovery process with no downside.

A simple Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome gratitude prayer you may find helpful:

“God, even as my heart cries of despair and fatigue,
You fill me with your grace and blessing.
Thank you for returning me to a life of simple abundance.

Thank you for healing me.”

Read Part 1

© Copyright 2014 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Gratitude benefits! Keeping the right attitude can help you fight adrenal fatigue/