04 Jun Happy Heart
A happy heart is critical to living a healthy and productive life. We are not talking about the physical muscle that beats but the gratitude, loving-kindness and forgiveness that fills our heart with happiness. Research has shown (The Harvard Health Publication ) that people who practice daily gratitude were happier, more satisfied with life, less materialistic and less likely to suffer from burnout. Gratitude has been strongly linked to well-being and life satisfaction according to Frederick McCullough in his groundbreaking research on the topic.
Gratitude motivates us toward self-improvement. We tend to exercise more, build relationships, have more humility and connectedness (Armento, 2017). It is no wonder that heart patients who started practicing gratitude had less recurring heart attacks, fatigue, depression, and inflammation. The researchers attributed these health improvements to the reduced release of the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin triggered by the gratitude and subsequently increased happiness. Brain neurotransmitters, oxytocin, and dopamine were increased in people who practiced gratitude as well.
Countless studies have shown that with gratitude there is a reduction in depression, chronic pain, blood pressure, and cholesterol (Y. NG, 2013). Better yet, children exposed to parents who practice gratitude were more optimistic, satisfied with their life and school and started practicing gratitude as well (Armento 2017).
Researchers have discovered the most Americans (68%) believe that they need more meaningful love in their personal life. Lovingkindness meditations have proven to help answer this yearning. We experience more love, joy, and contentment when were practice these meditations. In a review of over 18,342 people in medical articles, Ma and Turner looked at the benefits of loving-kindness. They discovered that their subjects who extended kindness to others, experienced more social connection, willingness to help and positivity toward strangers. Other authors noted a stronger relationship and improved social interactions after practicing these meditations.
Our happy heart cannot be optimal without our ability to let go of resentment toward ourselves or others. We call this forgiveness and it has been proven to have many health benefits including improved heart rate, lower blood pressure, less depression, less anxiety and stress and better relationships ( Mayo Clinic). Researchers at Johns Hopkins found a lower risk of heart attack, better sleep, and less pain in those who practiced forgiveness. 62% of Americans say they need more forgiveness in their lives and their lives really do depend upon practicing forgiveness.