Practicing the art of being thankful opens the door to health and wellbeing. Even Harvard Medical School has conducted studies that support the idea that a slow, grateful life leads to health and wellbeing.
Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the cosmos – the trees, the clouds, everything – Nhat Hanh
For years I moved through my life without a drop of gratitude, I became so bitter, angry, and stressed with the world that one day my legs stopped working. I simply couldn’t walk. Doctors scratched their heads for weeks while I lay in my hospital bed. At the age of 23, I remember looking at the off-white popcorn ceiling of my hospital room, with no use of my legs, feeling relieved.
Yes, relieved. I was relieved to have an excuse to stop, rest, and think. My body shut down to get me to slow down. As it turns out, my seething ingratitude and refusal to take care of myself caused me to power through instead of resting when I had the flu. My body reacted to this by sending out an S.O.S. in the form of a lesion on my spine. The doctors eventually diagnosed it as a non-traumatic spinal injury, I thought of it as my wake-up call.
After 8 weeks, the doctors reduced the inflammation in my spine and I recovered the use of my legs. I walked out of that hospital grateful for every step I could take. I vowed to change my life.
The next day I began practicing slowing down and being thankful for every little thing. I thanked the kettle for boiling water, I thanked the fridge for keeping the milk cold, I thanked my arms for giving Mr. Ernie warm hugs. I started using my left hand to do things like brush my teeth, this made me slow down and pay attention to the moment. And I thanked my toothbrush for giving me clean, healthy teeth. I must’ve looked quite crazy, but I moved through my life thanking every little thing until I oozed gratitude. I began to look after my body and my mind because thanking everything made me realise that when you have your health, you’ve won the lottery.
Practicing gratitude incited a complete shift in how I view myself and the world I live in. My health improved and I love caring for this body that I’ve been blessed with. I even find myself thanking my non-traumatic spinal injury, (as weird as that sounds). Without that figurative body slam from the universe, I would never have achieved the health and wellbeing that I’m so thankful for today.