How Can Gratitude Change Your DNA?
“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His mercy endured forever.” Psalms 136:9.
Gratitude change your DNA. Gratitude is as essential in life as having wisdom, compassion, or common sense. Furthermore, people often associate gratitude with positive thinking. Both actions create a more fulfilling and joyful life and create a positive effect.
But what is gratitude and how does it impact the body, spirit, and mind? What does appreciation mean in relation to positive psychology? And is it the same as being thankful and appreciative? What does feeling grateful entail?
Let’s define gratitude.According to Merriam-Webster, being grateful or having gratitude is simply, “The state of being grateful. Thankfulness.” Let’s further examine what this means on a deeper level with an example.
This can look like saying a prayer before a meal. Additionally, it can take a deeper, more complex tone.
Another example is someone reflecting on hardships, acknowledging their growth, and being grateful for the lessons learned. Someone may be grateful to God for what they have experienced as it has enhanced their life.
It can look like someone finding something to appreciate, like family or peace. In addition, someone can practice being grateful for pain and wisdom. It allows them to have a more resilient mindset, and persevere through life’s difficulties.
What is gratitude and why is it important? A PsychologyToday.com article, showcases many benefits of practicing gratitude including but not limited to:
- Improved relationships
- Better sleep
- Improved wellbeing
- Increased health and vitality
- Overall improved leadership skills
- Emotional wellness
Gratitude has several benefits, aside from remaining a positive psychological act. In addition, it’s important to distinguish real gratitude from the toxic kind.
The authentic version of gratitude showcases a deeper sense of thankfulness once healing has occurred. This can come after a traumatic event. There is more acceptance and peace.
Toxic gratitude can, on the other hand, feels rushed and self-deluding. Thus it may not have many benefits as it pressures someone to get over something before they are ready. It is worth noting this is not genuine gratitude and may even have delayed benefits for someone.
How Gratitude Changes the DNA
Long-term practices of gratitude have several physical, emotional and benefits. It has also been proven to change the DNA. The Heart Math Institute conducted a study. The study found that love and appreciation, as well as anxiety and anger, can alter a person’s DNA blueprint.
The Institute also did a study called, “Local and Non-Local Effects of Coherent Heart Frequencies on Conformational Changes of DNA”. This particular study demonstrated how DNA protein responded to feelings of appreciation. When 28 researchers learned how to feel and create feelings, the shape of DNA shifted according to the emotion. Furthermore, when the researchers demonstrated gratitude, the strands of the DNA grew longer.
However, when the researchers were angry, the same DNA strands got smaller—some even tightening up and “turning off”. When researchers shifted back into a state of appreciation, the DNA codes went back on.
Another study the Heart Math Institute completed stated DNA changes can also occur based on intention and emotion. This experiment has healers create a safe and healing environment while holding DNA vials. At the end of the study, the DNA had changed because of the healing environment.
An Attitude of Gratitude: Its Effect on the Body and Mind
The benefits of appreciation can change negative emotions and thoughts into positive ones. Additionally, being appreciative improves psychology and enhances acceptance. Overall, showing this daily lowers stress, depression and anxiety and increases personal happiness.
Expressing thankfulness can increase happiness and encourage feelings of improved self-esteem. Not to mention, expressing thankfulness to someone can increase their feelings of happiness and acceptance. It can also help people focus on the positive in life and be more prepared for positive outcomes.
Having an attitude of gratitude is the act of being thankful which can propel someone into heart-felt connections. It also has a positive impact on the body and mind. Aside from it providing more resilience, it prevents illness on a physical level, and enhances relationships and helps keep people mentally strong.
The American Heart Association notes gratitude,
can lower blood pressure and improve immune function. … Grateful people engage in more exercise, have better dietary behaviors, are less likely to smoke and abuse alcohol and have higher rates of medication adherence.
Another remarkable benefit of it on the brain is its impact on happiness, and the ability to reduce depression. A ScienceDirect.com article shares the impact of gratitude on the mind. The article cites that a study noted appreciation improved depression and had similar impacts on the mind as mindfulness did.
To add, people who expressed “emotional gratitude” or emotions related to appreciation were more sociable. Lastly, those who experienced it expressed it more. Someone practicing this can train and wire their brain to see the positive in life and be happier over time.
The Value of Gratitude for Spiritual Growth
A popular appreciation quote by Oprah Winfrey states, “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” This quote reveals how gratitude works on an emotional and even spiritual level, urging readers to be present in their thanksgiving.
Gratitude is not about always having what we want or need when we want it. Instead, it reflects being grateful for what is in front of us right now. It also shows how having an appreciative attitude helps people focus on more things to be thankful for.
Spiritually speaking, this mentality can prepare people to deal with unforeseen obstacles. In fact, the Bible says a lot about gratitude and appreciation in the following verses.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Colossians 3:15
- Psalm 107:1
- Acts 24:3
- 1 Thessalonians 5:18
- Colossians 3:17
- 1 Corinthians 15:57
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2
Spiritually, someone expressing gratitude to God for their experiences displays an optimistic outlook that can keep them inspired. Bible verses that direct readers to show appreciation to God also encourage expressing positive words that shift emotional and mental states. Last but not least, gratitude to God glorifies Him while keeping an open relationship and faith in Him strong.
Common Gratitude Exercises
The art of gratitude is something anyone can do at any age. It’s mostly a matter of mindfulness and devotion. Ways to enhance gratitude can range from journaling, making a gratitude list, or being around positive people.
For gratitude lists, someone can list 3 to 5 things they are grateful for each day to reframe negative emotions. Focusing on the positive can be healing and exciting. While identifying emotions and being honest about feelings can justify complaining, it can also keep people stuck on the negative.
An additional way to practice gratitude is to practice speaking with appreciation for everyday things. For example, appreciation quotes include “I appreciate you” is a short and sweet way to express it.
Actively showing appreciation to others can make them feel more accepted and valued. Another gratitude quote can be something as easy as stating “I am grateful for the chance to have this job.”
Sometimes reframing the mind with things to be grateful for allows someone to remember why it’s valuable in the first place. Even when practicing visualization, being grateful for manifested ideas or hopes can enhance the feelings associated with it.
Another idea to tackle the inner critic is to praise yourself by celebrating small wins. Someone being grateful for their “small wins” or major successes can build confidence and encourage self-compassion and self-esteem. Also reflecting back on personal losses or stressors after processing emotions can create mental strength.
Practicing gratitude is as essential as any other activity in life. Additionally, it enhances moods, improves sleep, builds and maintains relationships, and renews and maintains faith in God. Being appreciative can change the DNA and improve physical, mental, and emotional health.
Although it can be hard, pretending to be appreciative can help you feel like you are. This practice can help someone become more mindful and fulfilled. Lastly, celebrating small wins or showing appreciation for personal victories can encourage someone to be their best.
I have found my cancer journey to be a positive and profound transformational experience. I’m inspired to share my healing journey here, and trust you’ll find hope, encouragement and purpose as you discover the healing power that lies within you.