Expressing gratitude and appreciation in our lives, even for small things or when times get challenging, has undeniable benefits for our wellbeing and life satisfaction. From improving our mental health to having deeper relationships with ourselves and with others.
When you practice gratitude in your life you are more open to seeing even small wins - like the smile of a stranger, the smell of the wet earth after the rain or just having a roof over your head. Generally, being grateful increases your capability to see good in any situation.
Monk David Stendl-Rast in his famous TED Talk “Want to be happy? Be grateful” shares that:
“it is not happiness that makes us grateful” but “gratefulness that makes us happy”.
If we are not grateful, it does not matter how much we have, we will not be able to feel joy in our lives - because we will always be looking for something more.
For many of us, gratitude is about feeling thankful to someone who has done something good for us. However, scientists say that gratitude is not just a feeling or an action, but a deeper appreciation of someone or something that consequently creates a longer-lasting positivity.
By definition gratitude is:
“a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”.
Feeling gratitude increases your life satisfaction which leads to an improved overall sense of wellbeing. People who practice gratitude daily have a better mood and feel happier, which leads to less stress and depression.
Gratitude makes us more social, trusting and appreciative. For this reason, it is a strong tool for deepening and strengthening our relationships with our friends, family and loved ones. In addition, people who express thankfulness are more likely to forgive others.
When we find things to be grateful for, we feel less envious of others, experience more positive emotions and deal better with stressful situations.
When you practice gratitude you focus on the good in life. As a result, when you see your life to have more good, you believe that in the future there are higher possibilities to have it too. In addition, being optimistic makes you happier and healthier.
When we get too comfortable in a current situation, accepting change can be difficult. Feeling grateful for that change can be even harder. But after a while when you focus on what good that change has brought into your life, you can become more flexible in accepting changes in the future.
When you are grateful, focusing on negative emotions becomes harder. Gratitude moves your attention to positive people and experiences in your life. As a result, your sleep gets better and your immunity stronger.
The link between our body and mind is undeniable. If feeling appreciation helps us have healthier minds, it will make us have healthier bodies.
There are many ways to practice gratitude daily. Most common is to have a gratitude journal where every morning you just put down your thoughts about who or what you are feeling grateful for today. Writing down your expression of gratitude is great, but you can also practice gratitude in many other forms. While implementing gratitude in your life may seem a little challenging at first, like with any other skill, it comes with consistency and practice.
Here are few suggestions on how you can practice gratitude:
What will you implement today so you can feel the benefits of the gratitude tomorrow?