What is gratitude?
I’m sure your parents also encouraged you to say “Thank you” whenever you got a gift or when somebody had done something for you. If I was hesitant to say thank you, because I really didn’t have a good time or I didn’t like the present, they usually added – be polite – to the sentence 😏
If they would have explained to me that saying thank you is about showing your appreciation instead of just being polite, I might not have been hesitant sometimes. On the other hand, I’m not sure if a two-year-old really understands 😆
But what does it really mean, gratitude?
I guess we all have got a clear definition of gratitude and being grateful. According to google gratitude means: “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
I also found that it comes from the Latin word gratus, which means “thankful, pleasing.” When you feel gratitude, you’re pleased by what someone did for you and also pleased by the results.
Make sense ,right? Nothing new on the horizon.
The difference comes in when you go beyond just saying “thank you” to someone.
The positive effects of showing your gratitude have been researched extensively by more than one Positive Psychology department in different universities.
The scientists see gratitude not as an action but rather as a positive emotion that serves a biological purpose. When practicing gratitude your body and mind experience a couple of changes. In other words, practicing gratitude enhances your overall well-being.
“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
Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. It helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. And, don’t we all want this?!
Having a daily gratitude practice has changed my life!
I’m sure I’m textbook material for the Positive Psychology department 😏
In every single self-help book, that I picked up in the past years, there was at least one chapter that talked about the importance of having a daily gratitude practice. So, there must be something to it, right?
My daily gratitude practice didn’t come overnight. I tried different approaches and even stopped doing it all together. But, now I’m very happy that I found my way and that it has become a habit. Now I reap the benefits from my practice.
My daily gratitude practice, and trying to see the positive things in every process, makes it easier to deal with any disappointment or obstacles that come my way. It helps me to let go of that disappointment and look forward to the next step.
“Expect nothing but appreciate everything… and you will never be disappointed.”
If you think about it a bit deeper, there is so much truth in this simple sentence, at least for me. I can think of more than one situation that I had huge expectation, but they weren’t filled in and it left me more than disappointed. It is then so easy to get caught up with that what you didn’t get.
It could go from very simple things like getting the wrong pizza 😏 to important life-changing matters such as not getting that raise or that important client you were so hoping for. It’s not about the situation but it’s how you deal with the outcome that truly makes the difference.
The easiest way to start is to ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Is there something that you could appreciate from the situation?
- What is your biggest takeaway?
- Can you show your gratitude in any way?
Look, I’m not telling that it’s easy to see the good in everything. That you’ll never be disappointed again, ever. I still get disappointed when I get the wrong pizza 😆 or when a project doesn’t come through 🙄.
But it does make my life easier the way I deal with the outcome. Or I should say… how I learned to deal with the outcome. Asking myself those three questions has thought me to look at the good in every situation. Sometimes I don’t see it immediately but I know it’s there so I just have to open my eyes up a bit better!
Finding gratitude in every situation in your life, even the hard ones.
If you find it hard to believe that this is possible, I would like to invite you, or better, challenge you to show your appreciation, to give thanks, every day, and this for 21 days, in an intentional way!
You might ask yourself “why”? Well, there is no short answer to that, and that is a positive thing!
Positive psychology research has shown that gratitude touches on many aspects of your life that contribute to your basic happiness. I’m talking about your emotions, personality, relationships, your career, and health!
It will not only make you happier, give your self-esteem a boost but people will also like you more, thus building better relationships. You’ll have greater resilience, sleep better and learn to be happier with what you have in life right now!
How do you practice gratitude consciously?
It is so easy to get caught up in life. In the things that didn’t work out or that could have gone better. So much easier than trying to look for the good in the day. Gratitude works!
Being grateful is a choice and something that you can learn. Just as I had to find my way around it.
My daily gratitude practice is two-fold. In the morning I write one page about the things I was grateful for that day. It could be big things but usually it’s the small things that we take for granted and forget, that end up in my daily journal.
In the evening, when I’m ready to fall asleep, I go through my day in my mind. I try to identify 10 things that I felt grateful for. Usually, I’m fast asleep by item nr 4 so not sure if I can really call it a practice 😆 It surely helps me with having a good night’s rest. There is something different about falling asleep in a content way than tossing and turning about all your worries.
If you are ready to take a deep dive into experiencing the positive effects of showing more gratitude, then I invite you to participate in the 21-Day gratitude Challenge.
“Gratitude – The World Most Powerful Drug”- Jay Shetty
Thank you for being here and reading my blog post to the end. I appreciate it 😊