“Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift.”
Most of us associate gratitude with those two magic words ‘thank you’, every time someone does something nice or every time we receive a gift. Gratitude, in my opinion, forms the cornerstone for a happier life.
Gratitude is a positive emotion–psychologists define it as a deeper appreciation of everything that happens in our lives. The best way to see it is to approach all of it as gifts- both good and bad.
How many of us have grown up hearing the saying, ‘be thankful for what you’ve got’ or ‘count your blessings’. These aren’t mere Sunday-school preachings, rather they are tried and tested principles for leading a more mindful life. Being grateful allows you to take stock of your life, it allows you to focus on the ‘now’ and to appreciate everything you have.
People who are more grateful tend to be in better health. They tend to have a positive state of mind and complain of fewer aches and pains. There is an increasingly popular opinion today that disease begins in the mind, that a healthy mind results in a healthy body, and gratitude helps us to be more present and self-aware, and so we are more likely to have regular health check-ups and listen to what our body is saying.
Gratitude improves our relationships. People who are more grateful tend to look at their relationships and the circumstances in their life with a decidedly optimistic attitude. This helps them to engage more deeply with the people around them. This,in turn, makes us better listeners and more present and open to help or simply be present.
Gratitude results in better sleep. In a study conducted in 2011 published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, people who spend just fifteen minutes noting down all the things that they are grateful for, tend to sleep soundly.
Gratitude results in mental strength because it makes us look at all the wonderful things in our lives: the things that are worth appreciating, and in the face of that much good, the things that are lacking, just feel small.
People who are grateful tend to have better self-esteem. This is simply a manifestation of a glass half full perspective of viewing the world, when so much of your attention is focussed on all the many things you have going for you, it is hard not to feel invincible.
People who practice an attitude of gratitude tend to be more empathetic. According to a study conducted at the University of Kentucky, grateful people tend to not react in a negative way, even when they experience disappointment. They are more likely to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and to react with greater compassion.
Most importantly gratitude makes us kinder, it improves the way we go out an act in the world. With gratitude, we become more open-hearted, generous, and mindful of our actions. This opens up the doors for better relationships and who wouldn’t want that.
So let’s make gratitude our new project, let’s take each day of this month as a chance to live in gratitude. Let’s take the time to sit and note down all the good things that we have going for us. Thank the people who make our world, the little ones that inspire us, the elders that share their wisdom with us. Let’s appreciate the challenges that have shaped us and the achievements that have got us this far; let’s take the time to say a big thank you. How often do we stop long enough to truly appreciate everything that we have?