Thank you! Those are simple words that we are taught from a young age. They are a mark of our manners, our politeness and how we were raised. However, the power those words have is often misunderstood. They affect our happiness and mental health. Gratitude is one of the best things we can do to live a fulfilling life.
What is gratitude
Gratitude is the positive feeling we get when we receive a gift, help or favour. The experience of gratitude is felt strongest if we accept that the gift that we have received is beyond any payment we could pay. How could you put a price on the relationships with friends and family? The air in your lungs? Or even your life?
These are all gifts that we have that are beyond measurement and beyond a price. Gratefulness is to recognise the big and small things that exist in our lives and be happy that they exist.
Synonyms of gratitude
- Give Credit
Gratitude is built into the fabric of many cultures. Thanksgiving, the US national holiday, is the most recognised symbol of a cultural expression of gratitude. Did you know that similar holidays exist in Canada, Germany and Japan? Thanksgiving is about stopping to remember to be the things we have in our lives.
I believe that we could do more of this in our lives by practising it for more than one day a year. When we practise gratitude for a few minutes every day, it can have amazing psychological benefits.
Gratitude as a Philosophy
Giving thanks is the foundation of the major religions of the world (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism), where it is a virtue.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough“Buddha
This quote is perhaps the essence of gratitude. If we are thankful for the things that we have, we are unlikely to be greedy or jealous of those who have more.
As a concept, it has even been used by new age religions and philosophies, like The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, as a path to our success. In her book, she and similar philosophers argue that to get more in your life, we must first be grateful for the things we have and the things that we are to receive. Although there may be little evidence to many of the points in her book, it is right to say that gratitude does have a positive impact on our lives.
Having the ‘Attitude of Gratitude‘ can have such profound consequences on a person’s well-being and mental health that it could even add years to your life.
In the last few decades, the benefits of gratitude have been studied by scientists, and the list of positive benefits of this simple practice continues to demonstrate how important it is for our own wellbeing.
10 benefits of gratitude
- increase happiness
- Better physical health
- Better sleep
- Better resilience
- Stronger relationships
- Greater life satisfaction
- Less aggression and more patience
- Better self-care
- Improved addiction recovery
- Decrease inflammation
- Reduced pain
- Lower blood pressure
To find out more about these benefits visit https://www.powerofpositivity.com/grateful-people-why-live-longer/
Why it works
Being grateful helps us to live in the present moment, avoiding the negative inner chatter within our heads. It protects us from negative emotions. How could we experience regret, jealousy or envy when having a mind of gratitude? Surely we would be incapable of jealousy if we remember to count the blessing of the things we have in our lives. That does not mean we don’t strive for success, but we don’t have to dislike others for the things they have.
“Comparison is the thief of joy”President Theodore Roosevelt
How to start
We can all start by giving thanks for today, the people we have in our lives, the food that we ate today and the things our body can do that someone else is not capable of doing.
“When eating a fruit, think of the person who planted the tree.”Vietnamese Proverb
This is true of everything that we have in our life. We are incredibly fortunate to have so many things in our lives. How many hands went into providing our homes with electricity?
Life is full of challenges and hard times. It can be hard to be thankful when you feel nothing is going right. It is these struggles, however, that provide us with a moment to grow and realise how strong we are. We don’t practice gratitude when we are happy because happiness comes from gratitude. Appreciation of what we already have has to come first. Gratitude makes you happy. When this is realised and taken on board, the way you see the world and how you feel about it will also change.
- Start simple, the next time you eat, think of all the hands that helped to bring you that food. Who planted the seed? Who picked the fruit? Who drove it to the warehouse? Who stacked it on the shelf?
- Start each morning by thinking of 5 things that you are grateful for. Try to be original.
- Keep a gratitude journal. It’s like a diary in which you write down things that you are grateful for, the reasons why and ways you can share your gratitude.
- Remember the people in your life.
- Meditate. It will help to distance yourself from your negative thoughts and keep you in the present moment.
- Smile and think positively.
- When you’re grateful for someone, share it. They too will share their gratitude with you. It creates a positivity loop.
- When you’re faced with a challenge, be thankful for the opportunity it gives you to grow as a person.
- Volunteer and do random acts of kindness with strangers. It will make you feel better.
- Watch the things that you say. Negative words can affect our feelings, especially if they come from our own mouths.
Create a Habit
To have a long term benefit, gratitude needs to become part of our daily routine. Sometimes, this feeling can be spontaneous after someone holds the door for us. At other times, we need to deliberately count our blessings and recognise the things that we are thankful for in our lives.
Start each morning by counting your blessings. Think of a few things that make your life special. Try to think of 5 new ones each morning while brushing your teeth. It could include the people in your life, your job, the inventor of the toothbrush, your breakfast, or your pet. When you see that it’s a beautiful day, remember to give thanks. If you see someone that you enjoy talking with, give them thanks. If the roads are clear, be thankful.
Live life Joyously
Suggested Further Reading
The Gratitude Project – How the Science of Thankfulness Can Rewire Our Brains for Resilience, Optimism, and the Greater Good
Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life
The Gratitude Jar: A Simple Guide to Creating Miracles