How many of us take the time to be grateful for what we have? Mostly we look for material pleasures we need, but fail to look at our lives and be grateful for what we have, because we do not value it. We go through life always thinking about what we don’t have and this makes us unhappy. Rather, we must be grateful for what we have, be it the smallest things, and this will make us happy by acknowledging the relations, time, love and so many other things that we neglect in our daily endeavor to live our lives!
What is Gratitude?
A very apt definition comes from the Harvard Medical School, which says that 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”
Benedictine monk, Br. David Steindl-Rast, suggests that two qualities belong in our basic definition of gratitude. The first is appreciation: You recognize that something is valuable to you, which has nothing to do with its monetary worth. The second quality Br. David mentions is that gratitude is gratis: freely given to you.
Why is Gratitude important?
By being grateful, we realize that we have been blessed with the power to appreciate the beauty in our lives.
Some scientifically proven benefits of feeling grateful as follows:
- Gratitude improves psychological health: Being grateful reduces the range of toxic emotions, from envy and hatred to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
- Gratitude improves physical health: Grateful people feel healthier than
other people and experience less body pains and aches, according to a study done.
- Gratitude enhances relationships: Saying a simple “thank you” not only constitutes good manners, but showing appreciation can help you in your relationships at home and work. So whether you thank your spouse for cooking your meal or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
- Grateful people sleep better: Keep a Gratitide Journal and spend 15 minutes writing a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem: By being grateful, we start appreciating the little things around us and we are not envious or resentful about others who probably have a lot more than us, thus improving our self-esteem.
How to cultivate Gratitude in daily life
“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” – Oprah Winfrey
Cultivating gratitude is a choice that we need to make everyday as we take the small joys for granted and we forget to be thankful for those moments that make us happy. Consciously practicing gratitude defines a more positive outlook towards life.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude:
- Maintain a Gratitude Journal: Begin the morning by journaling the things that you are grateful for. It could be simply that you are grateful to open your eyes today and enjoy a new day, watch the beautiful colors of the sky! It could be difficult initially finding those things ro moments that we are grateful for but it will come with practice as there are so many things taken for granted that the less fortunate people cherish. Find atleast 5 things or moments you are grateful for. Continue doing this every morning or night and feel the difference.
- Get inspired: Think of someone who you are grateful for having in your life, as an inspiration in some way. Think of the quality you appreciate in that person and inspire yourself to be like him or her.
- Remember: All through the different stages of our lives, there have been people who have stood by us and done kind deeds. Go back into memory and remember them. They could be your parents, your siblings, your relatives, your friends, your colleagues or just some stranger who has helped you in some way or the other. Remember them and be grateful for having them.
- Pay it forward: There are times, when you would like to repay someone who has done good for you. But there is nothing that you could do to match his/her kindness. In this case, pay it forward. Do a good deed for someone else without expecting anything in return. That’s the beauty of giving. Just do a random act of kindness possibly every day and be rest assured that you will get it back in bountiful – peace of mind, sound sleep, good health etc.
- Practice gratitude with family: In today’s time, it is very difficult to have the complete family on the table at the same time for dinner. If this is possible, have each member of the family share one incident for which they are grateful today. This will help to cultivate the feeling of gratitude in children from a young age.
There are many other ways as well. Feel free to share your experiences in your comments.
Practicing gratitude really helps to keep a positive attitude and see and feel all of the magic around you. I hope my content on cultivating gratitude encourages you to create your own ways of celebrating the magical moments that you would generally miss running through the daily chores of your life.
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson