When things are going badly, the furthest thing on your mind might be finding things to be grateful for. It can be difficult to look beyond your troubles and say ‘thanks’ for something. But did you know that if you can learn to do that, it actually helps lift your burden?
A grateful attitude is key to psychological wellbeing. Gratitude can make you happier, improve your relationships, beat depression and anxiety.
Some studies have linked gratitude to physical health benefits such as fewer aches and pains, improved sleep and better cardiovascular (heart) health.
Gratitude is even good for business. Feeling undervalued is one of the main reasons employees leave their jobs. Many studies show that when people feel appreciated they are more motivated, experience higher job satisfaction and are less likely to leave their jobs.
If you want to make gratitude part of your personal strengths, here are some tips to get you started.
Your guide to gratitude
While the benefits of gratitude are clear, it’s all about finding the right balance. Be careful not to try to focus on gratitude and being so positive that you ignore your real problems. Gratitude alone won’t solve serious issues that need to be addressed. But it can reduce your stress levels as you face those challenges.
These simple practices will help you start experiencing more gratitude in everyday life:
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down a few gifts and graces you enjoyed at the end of each day. The physical act of writing can cement this in your memory and make it less fleeting. Plus, it will remind you of all the good things in your life when you page back.
Say ‘thank you’. It’s not just good manners – thanking people who help you, deliver a service, or give you a gift will also trigger your own feelings of gratitude.
Use your senses. Sometimes, it can be hard to see through the fog and find things to be thankful for. On those days, focus on the simplicity of the senses. What can you see that makes you feel grateful? What lovely smells did you experience today? What delicious meal are you looking forward to? These everyday human experiences can be quite impactful when you take the time to notice them.
Reflect. Another way to trigger gratefulness is to consider past times. Recognising your own personal growth through time can spark gratitude.
Keep practicing. Studies show that the impact of gratitude gets stronger over time, and that feeling grateful becomes easier the more often you do it. Stick with it to get the full benefits.
Showing gratitude, spreads gratitude
People who publicly express gratitude elevate and inspire others, prompting them to do the same. However, limiting expressions of gratitude for things such as personal possessions, opportunities or privileges might just make others envious. On the other hand, expressing gratitude towards people, or thanking them for help or a service, inspires feelings of happiness, altruism and reciprocal gratitude.
- Greater Good Magazine