Exploring gratitude in the float pod
…and why the very act of gratefulness can improve your mental wellbeing.
What am I grateful for?
It’s a question to ask at every opportunity – a way of reaffriming to ourselves that we appreciate our existence. And we don’t need a particular belief system to practise gratitude and reap its benefits.
There is a body of evidence spanning back some three decades to show that practising gratitude has measurable benefits on our sleep, our ability to deal with pain, our immune systems, our overall mental health, and even our blood pressure.
In short, being grateful can help us lead a happier, healthier life.
So what is gratitude?
Dr Robert Emmons, author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, believes there are two stages to expressing gratitude.
First, comes internal appreciation, where we acknowledge the good things in our lives. We ‘say yes to life’ and affirm that on balance, life is good and has elements that make it not just worth living, but enrichen our existence. When something gratifying befalls us, we are grateful for its presence.
The second stage, is recognising the good outside of ourselves - where we show gratitude for other people, animals, the world, and acts that don’t involve us. We have recognised a good thing that happened in our lives, but also the person or circumstances responsible for it, and the sacrifices they had to make.
Gratitude holds a special place in history within philosophy and religion
Early philosophers like Cicero and Seneca saw gratitude as crucial to the advancement of a successful civilisation, while religions throughout history advocate the practice of gratitude in different ways.
The Islamic tradition of praying five times a day is to show gratitude for Allah. Christianity and Judaism assert you can only live a good life through showing gratitude along the way. In Buddhism, gratitude is used to reflect on the past, and to reframe events that may have caused anxiety into lessons from which we can learn and be grateful.
Science also recognises the significance of gratitude
Research has shown that regularly practising gratitude can improve your overall sense of wellbeing, help build strong relationships, make you more optimistic, build stronger self-control, improve physical and mental health, and simply make you happier.
So… how do you practise gratitude in the float pod?
Everyone explores the float pod in different ways, but it is the optimal environment for expressing gratitude, and counting the things for which you are grateful.
Try this little experiment next time you’re in the pod:
On a deep in-breath, say to yourself “I am grateful for…”, and on the out breath, the subject of your gratitude.
Start off small and easy:
“I am grateful for… being alive today.”
“I am grateful for… the food I have to eat and the roof over my head.”
and build up to more personal, specific events:
“I am grateful for… that fight with my mother because it allows me to learn about how I react in situations.”
“I am grateful for… my friend securing that job he wanted.”
“I am grateful for… this very moment I get to experience.”
…and so on.
Of course, there are many ways to practise and demonstrate gratitude. We believe that it’s an important tool for improving mental health, but also for the wider wellbeing of humanity. It’s a topic that we will be visiting again over time, as we explore the variety of ways to integrate gratitude into your life.