Several years ago, Linda*, a fiftyish woman, came to me for acupuncture because she was stressed out at her job.
During her first appointment, it became clear to me that stress at work was just the tip of the iceberg of Linda’s problems. Linda’s health wasn’t bad, but during the time that I treated her, I realized that Linda was the most negative person I had ever met.
The stress Linda was experiencing at work was an annoying co-worker–annoying enough to make Linda hate her job.
However, she hated everything else about her life, too.
Negative Attitudes in Chinese Medicine
She was single and angry about it, had few friends, and disliked even her dog. Linda purchased and moved into a new home, in which she was unhappy, in a neighborhood that she didn’t like.
There was literally no part of Linda’s life that brought her any joy.
When I work with patients, we take a look together at their whole health picture, including their physical health, lifestyle, diet, and emotional health.
During these sessions, Linda told me that she was unwilling or perceived herself unable to make any changes whatsoever that would improve her life. She was depressed and unhappy, and would do nothing to change the negativity of her existence.
In Chinese medicine, the source of depression is something called unfulfilled desires.
It is basically wanting something that you don’t have or living a life which is vastly different from the life that you want. While we all want things, the problem occurs when that wanting becomes a source of unhappiness or chronic negative thinking.
Negative thinking is the stuff of Liver Qi stagnation.
Your Chinese Liver is responsible for the smooth flow of everything in your body and in your life, from your digestion to your hormones. This also includes the smooth flow of your emotions. Your Liver can become stuck, or stagnant, from frustration, inflexibility, and strong emotions, especially anger.
When your Liver becomes stagnant, the emotional frustration begins to affect you physically, and can cause a wide variety of symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, and digestive problems.
Gratitude, can be an antidote to Liver Qi stagnation.
The Health Benefits of an Attitude of Gratitude
By practicing gratitude, or an attitude of thankfulness, you shift your thinking from one of negativity to one that’s more positive about the circumstances, relationships, and events in your life. You realize that your glass is half full and your sense of wanting decreases. Rather than focusing on what you don’t have, gratitude causes you to look outward and see that life is good and that you have been showered with gifts.
You just need to recognize term.
Scientific research backs of the benefits of gratitude.
Researchers in two different studies have found that people who keep a daily gratitude journal reported a decrease in depression and stress. In addition, the subjects had an improved sense of well-being and a need to share their positive feelings by extending kindness to others.
In the United States, we officially practice gratitude only one day each year, Thanksgiving Day.
However, by making gratitude a daily exercise, you can improve your emotional health and the flow of your Chinese Liver.
A few simple ways to practice gratitude include:
- Keep a journal in which you write down five things (or three things, or a hundred) each day for which you’re thankful.
- Count your blessings, especially when you’re feeling sad, depressed or feeling a lack of goodness in your life.
- Say thank you more often and send thank you notes. This is a small way of acknowledging the positive things in your life and a way of brightening the lives of others.
*Names and details have been changed to avoid identifying this patient.