Many of us get distracted by the hustle of everyday life and miss opportunities to be grateful for all the many moments of beauty that present themselves each day. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, allowing stress to drive our emotions constricts the movement of Qi (vital life-force energy) in our bodies which can lead to imbalance. On the other hand, by embracing an outlook of gratitude where we can appreciate what life has to offer expands our Qi and helps to maintain balance.
In both Western and Eastern medicine, the liver’s main functions include the storage of and filtration of blood, and metabolic activities including the metabolism and hormones. But TCM says that the liver is also involved in the smooth flow and distribution of blood, emotions, and Qi.
Practicing gratitude is an excellent antidote to liver Qi stagnation. By taking time each day to focus on what you’re grateful for, you shift your thinking from seeing the glass half empty to seeing the glass half full. Practicing gratitude reveals a heightened awareness of your connection to everything else, and shows you that you are supported in countless ways through each moment of your life. The essence of gratitude is that is shows us that the darker moments in life allow the lighter times to glow even brighter.
Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, gratitude causes you to look outward, and to see that life is good and that you have been showered with gifts. You just need to recognize them. What’s more, scientific research even backs up the physical and emotional benefits of gratitude, which include:
- Decreased stress
- Greater resistance to catching the common cold
- A sense of well-being and improved health
- Reduced risk of coronary artery disease
- Improved coping ability for women with high-risk pregnancies
- Better coping skills during hardships
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
What are you grateful for today?
(For a little more on how being grateful is good for your health, read what Andrew Weil has to say)