As far back as anyone can remember we have all been taoght to say Thank You when someone gives us something or does a pleasant gesture, we are taught to say thank you from a very young age.
And as we grow up we develop the habit of saying thank you out of social convention.
But how often do we give appreciation for the minor blessings that come our way every day?
Do we really express gratitude as we should?
Or are we focused on all the things that are not going on so well in our lives?
Do we truly understand gratitude and how to practice gratitude?
Let’s find out.
What is gratitude?
Although there are various definitions of gratitude that we have all heard of or read, true gratitude involves intentional effort.
We frequently say “thank you” without genuinely feeling grateful or even thinking twice.
Gratitude entails much more than just being polite.
It’s a technique that calls for acknowledging the kindness shown to us by others or the positive aspects of our existence.
It involves both the process of recognizing the good and how it turns out.
A person can express genuine gratitude as a conscious, good emotion, when they are appreciative of something tangible or immaterial.
Why is gratitude important?
There are numerous immediate and long-term advantages to regularly practicing and expressing deep gratitude.
Gratitude is one of the key areas of attention for positive psychology, according to extensive research by psychologists.
There is evidence to support the idea that those who intentionally list their blessings are happier and less depressed than those who don’t.
Research suggests that because gratitude and thankfulness stem from the region of the brain linked to stress reduction and social bonding, it can help explain how emotions of gratitude eventually improves one’s mental as well as overall health.
This may have developed from the need to groom one another for parasites since they are intimately related to the brain’s “mu opioid” networks, which are engaged during close interpersonal touch and pain alleviation.
The brain networks that activate when we interact with others and enjoy ourselves include the regions connected to gratitude .
These areas have strong connections to the sections of the brain that regulate basic emotions, such as heart rate and arousal levels, and are linked to pain relief and stress release.
When we are thankful and express gratitude or acknowledge the assistance of others, our bodies become more relaxed, which enables the positive effects of stress relief to take hold.
Quite a number of scientific papers have been published over the year to demonstrate this phenomenon.
One meaningful acknowledgment of good increases happiness by 10% right away and reduces depressive symptoms by 35%, according to studies.
When gratitude gets ingrained in us, it helps considerably lessen anxiety and depression.
Your mental health is automatically improved when you feel grateful.
For example in a study, a simple activity like writing thanksgiving letters results in considerably improved mental health, which persisted four and twelve weeks following the writing exercise.
Although not conclusive, this finding shows that cultivating gratitude can help the brain become more receptive to experiencing it in the future, which may eventually lead to better mental health.
It has been demonstrated that having a grateful mindset increases our propensity to share the inspiration and joy it gives us.
This is true whether we are expressing our gratitude or increasing our urge to help others.
According to research, feeling grateful may also help people become more motivated to take steps toward improving themselves.
This has two good effects on us.
First off, when we have a grateful mindset, we frequently engage in additional activities that enhance our wellbeing, such as meditation, physical activity, and identifying our strengths. Second, it inspires kindness, thoughtfulness, and altruism in us.
We become more tolerant, more likely to lend a helping hand, and more compassionate when we are grateful.
Family members’ feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment can be increased through gratitude, potentially lowering the risk of conflict.
Workers were 50% more productive, according to Wharton School researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, when their bosses actively communicated gratitude to them.
Researchers Adam Grant and Francesca Gino discovered in similar studies that getting praise for excellent performance gave team members a strong sense of self-worth and confidence.
Additionally, it resulted in a rise in mutual trust and initiative.
5 Effective ways to practice gratitude in your daily life
A great method of self-therapy is journaling. When you write a journal, you access memories and emotions from a fresh angle and employ different parts of your brain.
It has been proven that keeping a gratitude journal stimulates the parts of the brain associated with morality and happy feelings.
Higher levels of resilience, forgiveness, and detachment are displayed by those who were able to find meaning in difficult circumstances and felt grateful for the positive outcomes.
And when you’re having a hard time being positive, reading your own words of gratitude can make you feel better.
Make it a habit to remind yourself each day of the blessings, grace, advantages, and positive aspects of your life.
You have the chance to weave a lasting theme of thankfulness into your life by reflecting on moments of gratitude connected to commonplace happenings, your unique qualities, or important persons in your life.
This does not mean you should ignore the negative, rather observe the negative and dwell of the things you’re grateful for everyday.
Meditation can help us go as far as we can with gratitude.
We can broaden our understanding of life and our connection to ourselves and other beings by practicing various guided meditations, such as those on love and kindness.
It encourages thankfulness because it fosters acceptance, objectivity, and forgiveness. We can also use this time to focus on something specific for which we are grateful, allowing the sensation to intensify and grow.
By just spending five minutes each morning and evening reflecting on your blessings, you will cultivate gratitude.
The act of simply reflecting on your positive experiences can have a big impact on your disposition and productivity.
When it’s hard to be grateful, pay attention to your senses.
Meditation encourages you to practice gratitude by taking your time and focusing on your senses—what you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
Practicing gratitude daily doesn’t have to include anything spectacular; it could be as easy as being thankful for your morning cup of coffee or a nice book.
Or for waking up in good health, for your loved ones, your job or anything you can think of.
For instance consider three things for which you are grateful every day. Make it a routine to think about your blessings each day.
Your mood during the day and the quality of your sleep will be directly impacted by this.
In fact, when beginning a course of treatment for depression, therapists frequently recommend this as one of the initial exercises.
It is suggested that you spend at least ten minutes on this practice rather than just coming up with ideas immediately to make it more effective.
It’s a fantastic idea to put them on paper after your activity, and it’s helpful to read them again at the end of the week.
According to research, showing gratitude might improve interpersonal connections.
Therefore, be sure to express your appreciation to your partner, friends, or family members the next time they do something you value.
Never forget to express gratitude to others for little things that don’t significantly affect you.
This covers your job as well as the people that assist you throughout the day, such as an Uber driver, a repairman, or a barista.
If you can honestly thank them, it helps you recall how many individuals make modest contributions to your wellbeing throughout the day.
Gratitude is more than just politeness or a way to stroke our egos. I’m not advocating that you use your generosity to return favors, but rather that appreciation and generosity are two sides of the same coin.
Because of this, by developing a habit of generosity, you will establish a pattern of grateful living.
You can be reminded to be grateful by placing subtly noticeable visual cues in your home, at your desk in the office or as the background of your computer.
We recommend you compile inspirational sayings or photographs and post them in prominent locations.
When you read them, you’ll take a moment to reflect on all the things in your life for which you have reason to be thankful, which can make it easier for you to handle challenging days.
Exercises You Can Start Today To Boost Gratitude
A remarkably easy exercise that can have a big impact on your happiness and outlook is keeping a gratitude jar.
There are only a few ingredients needed: a jar (a box will also do), ribbon, stickers, or whatever else you want to decorate the jar with, paper, a pen, or pencil, and appreciation!
Step 1: Find a jar or box.
Step 2: Add any decorations you like to the jar.
You can add stickers to the sides, paint the jar, leave it simple, wrap a ribbon around the neck, make it sparkle with transparent glue and glitter, or do anything else you can think of to make it attractive.
Step 3:The third and most crucial phase will be carried out each day.
Throughout the day, consider at least three things for which you are thankful.
It might be as simple as a cup of coffee at your favorite spot or as magnificent as the love of a special friend or partner. Do this every day; list your blessings on tiny slips of paper and place them in the jar.
You will eventually discover that you have a jar full of several causes to be grateful for what you have and appreciate the life you are leading. Additionally, it will promote the habit of showing gratitude.
Take a few notes out of the jar if you need a short boost of motivation or are feeling particularly depressed and need a reminder of your blessings.
The practice of mindfulness meditation and the development of self-awareness both benefit from reflection. Although improved wellness is enough of a benefit for most of us, these habits can also result in other advantages.
Follow these steps to reflect on your gratitude:
- Set yourself up in a calm position. To unwind and find your center, take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Let your focus shift to your immediate surroundings, including everything you can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Acknowledge everything around you.
- Next, think about the close relationships you have with your friends, family, and partner. Say to yourself, “I am glad for this.”
- Then, focus on you. You are a special person with the capacity for communication, inventiveness, learning from the past to inform the present, and overcoming any pain you may be going through. Say to yourself, “I am glad for this.”
- Finally, take comfort in the knowledge that life is a priceless gift, that you have the blessings of good health, culture, and access to spiritual teachings, that you were born throughout a time of extreme abundance. Say to yourself, “I am glad for this.”
It can be challenging to establish a daily gratitude practice, just as it can be challenging to maintain any new habit at first.
Like most other practices, it gets easier the more you do it. When you succeed in mastering it, gratitude activates the reward center of the brain.
According to one study, keeping a gratitude routine can activate the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, a crucial part of the brain involved in processing rewards.
All of which is absolutely worthwhile in so many ways.