So far in this 15-day self healing series, we’ve talked about healing yourself through many innovative methods that help protect you from threats to your health while activating the inner healing potential you already possess. Today, in part twelve of this series, we’re going to explore the power of gratitude in accelerating your healing even further.

This isn’t some etheric, touchy-feely self-help exercise, by the way: there is a very real healing effect that is initiated in your body when you express gratitude towards people or things outside of yourself. Some of this effect can be measured biochemically, while other aspects of it are currently beyond scientific measurement. But the bottom line is irrefutable: Expressing gratitude initiates a powerful healing effect in your own mind and body.

What do you have to be happy about?

Getting to this gratitude, however, isn’t always so easy. Being able to genuinely express gratitude requires you to shift your focus away from the things that are negative and toward those things that you feel thankful for. And as you already know, it’s very easy to forget to be thankful for all the amazing things we experience on a daily basis.

Many of us living in western society tend to focus on what we don’t have. We think we don’t have enough money, we don’t have enough time, we don’t have the partner we’re looking for and so on. And in that exercise — which can frankly dominate our day-to-day thinking if we’re not careful — we tend to ignore those amazing things we do have. So, the more we can step back and examine what we already experience that’s valuable to us, the more we can focus on gratitude and the more we can accelerate our own inner healing as a result.

Here’s a list of some of the things for which you may find plenty of gratitude:

• Your health. Even if it isn’t perfect, you may be thankful for the health you have.
• Your family.
• Your freedoms (freedom of speech, etc.)
• Your intelligence, consciousness and awareness.
• Your memories! (Life without memories would be bizarre…)
• Sunshine and nature — the great outdoors.
• Food and seeds, some of the many remarkable gifts from Mother Nature.
• Your job, business or career which provides the income you need.
• Your inquisitiveness and desire to learn new things.
• A spiritual awakening, or realization or philosophy that you follow.
• Your pets / animal companions.

In fact, if you think about, there are probably a great many things for which you can feel great gratitude — the small plants in your window sill, the knowledge about health that you’ve accumulated through reading, and even the fact that the sun will indeed come up tomorrow.

Take a few moments and think about what you are thankful for. You may even wish to take a few minutes to jot down some notes for yourself.

Set aside just 60 seconds a day

With your list of those things you are thankful for, I’d like to invite you to set aside just one minute per day (or more, if you wish) to review that list, to verbalize your gratitude and to really take in your thankfulness for those things that you do have. Literally say it out loud: “I am thankful for the garden in my back yard and the opportunity to grow a small portion of my own food” for example.

In just 60 seconds per day, if practiced daily, you will create an attitude of gratitude which will brighten your mood and uplift your day-to-day experience of life because it allows you to refocus your attention on those things you appreciate rather than those things you might despise.

And this, as I hinted at earlier, will result in a very real physiological and biochemical healing effect within your own body.

How gratitude becomes self-healing

Every type of energy that you express to someone else is reflected in your own inner experience. So, if you express hatred toward some other person or subject matter, there is an element of that energy that is also expressed internally in that moment. To hate someone else is to subject yourself to some reflection of that own hate, in other words.

At the same time, to love something else — or to express thankfulness towards it — causes a reflection of that positive energy to be felt inside yourself, too. So the mere act of expressing gratitude is a form of self-healing.

As a person who has written both positive and negative stories for many years, I am acutely aware of this dynamic. When I write negative stories (critical stories), the energy that is reflected back is often negative in its tone, especially from the parties being criticized. But when I write positive stories, the energy that’s reflected back to me is very positive.

You might wonder why, then, I still write some negative stories. The answer is that from time to time there are some injustices that are so extreme that I feel a need to expose them publicly even though I pay a personal price in terms of reflected negative energy. Even then, you’ve probably noticed a shift over the last several months where more stories are oriented toward the positive, because that’s what I much prefer to write about. In fact, when there’s an opportunity to write a positive story or do a positive product review, I actually feel a great sense of gratitude simply from the opportunity to do that. And that makes me feel good, too. So I’m practicing the same gratitude dynamics that I’m describing here in this article.

What’s interesting about all this is something the Buddhists will tell you: In terms of self healing, it doesn’t really matter what you express gratitude towards — the positive feedback and effects on your own healing are still present. You could find a rock on a dirt path and express gratitude toward the rock and you’d still receive a measurable benefit from it.

You can, in fact, express gratitude towards any thing or any person in the world — even if such gratitude is not necessarily justified — and still experience the benefits of that gratitude in your own mental and physical healing. This even works if you express gratitude and thankfulness towards larger concepts like “life” or “God” or “the universe.”

Anger cannot coexist with gratitude

Anger is a very destructive emotion because it causes stress, adrenal depletion and tension throughout the body. But you can learn to replace anger (or other negative emotions) with gratitude, and anger cannot coexist with gratitude.

In this way, gratitude can begin to nudge out the other negative emotions you might be experiencing. This doesn’t mean you have to run around blindly thankful for everything without discerning times when criticism or anger might be called for, but the more you can find the gratitude in everyday things, the more you’ll activate and support your body’s inner healing processes.

So, start today and rediscover those things you feel gratitude towards. Express thankfulness either silently or verbally and enjoy the experience of that positive energy being reflected back at you.

Adapted from