Gratitude is a simple act of being thankful. It is about acknowledging the nuances of life which bring you joy and being grateful for it.
Gratitude looks different for each person—someone may be grateful for being able to sleep with a full stomach and shelter, while someone with all the basic necessities might struggle to count their blessings. Given today’s hustle-bustle, practicing gratitude allows you to shift your focus from the things you lack and yearn for to the abundance of what you have today, and every day.
Since childhood, our elders have asked us to be polite and be thankful for the little things in life. As we grow up though, this ability to convey gratitude turned into a mere act of being polite rather than truly meaning it.
Being grateful is all about perspective, about looking at the brighter side of the daily life. Before you roll your eyes at the idea of looking at the positive aspects of your life, pause for a second and think when was the last time you were genuinely grateful for something in life—was it that job you landed, your wedding, the birth of your child, or when you thought you almost lost your loved ones but thanked your stars when they were saved. When was it? The fact that we are conditioned to be grateful only for the big milestones in life, shows how fundamentally flawed our concept of living is.
An American poet, Jack Gilbert in his poem, “A brief for Defense” Says–
“We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.”
In simple words, the world is ruthless as it is, and no one is oblivious to the harsh realities of every day but what helps one elevate life to true living is gratitude.
Gratitude and its impact on your everyday life:
Improves your relationship with yourself and others:
When you imbibe being grateful every day, you are slowly but surely expected to experience a shift in everything happening around you—including all the relationships you have in your life especially the one you have with yourself.
Being grateful allows you to look at the goodness that resides in everyone. According to a study by the University of Kentucky in 2012, the participants who ranked higher on a scale of gratitude were likelier to reciprocate better to negative feedback. They were much more sensitive and empathic towards others and understood others better.
When you consider someone’s presence in your life as something to be thankful for, you nurture the relationship better and tend to look at ways to get through tough times rather than ways to win over an argument.
When you are grateful, you surround yourself with positive thoughts and affirmations. Amongst all the conversations you have as you go on about your day, the most important conversation is the one you have in your mind, with yourself. Instead of berating yourself for the things you think you lack, you start appreciating yourself for how far you have come and for the little things you have achieved.
And you attract the people your thoughts allow. When you inculcate the habit of being grateful, you attract like-minded people into your life which in turn enriches your life.
You tend to become the go-to person when someone needs a positive take on a situation and become a much more supportive person as you condition yourself to be grateful no matter what.
Makes work, more than just work
In a world where everyone is judged by numbers and qualifications, it is imperative you don’t judge yourself.
Your work eventually becomes your identity in adulthood and you are at a constant race to get ahead. While it is important to have the spirit and determination to strive forward, it is necessary you take the time to appreciate how far you have come, how much you have achieved and how much you have grown.
Instead of belittling yourself by scrutinizing your present shortcomings that are affecting your possible future, change your perspective on how you have been thriving to get so far!
When you are grateful for the qualities you possess, for the people you work with, for the opportunities you are provided with—you automatically start breathing into the pattern of constant self-development and become your own cheerleader.
Enhances your quality of life
Your mind and body are deeply connected—manifestations of your thoughts are very likely to affect your health, both physical and mental.
According to a research of UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, “Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive and less resistant.”
Studies have shown that being grateful reduces cholesterol, controls blood pressure, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, reduces the risk of heart diseases and so much more. Imagine how you can transform your life by just being thankful every day?
A study was conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami, where participants were divided into three groups and were asked to journal for ten weeks. The first group had to describe five things they were grateful for at the end of each week, the second group was asked to journal their troubles from the week, the last group was simply asked to journal anything that affected them not specifying it as a negative or positive experience. At the end of ten weeks, the gratitude group was mentally much better and experienced 25 percent more happiness as compared to the rest. They were more physically driven, motivated and even exercised 1.5 hours more.
Gratitude removes you from the toxicity of daily emotions and allows you to put yourself in a better light. As a result of which, you focus on the better parts of life which does wonders to your mind and body. No matter how much you strive to get fitter through various physical means, there is only so much you can achieve if your mental health is in shambles. Practicing gratitude helps ease the minds of people with anxiety and depression as well. Positive reinforcement of thoughts makes you optimistic, hopeful towards life in general and empowers you as you are in control of your thoughts and the direction they take.
You can simply start off by writing down three things you have been grateful for in the day or even think about the things that made you happy in the day. Force yourself to do it the first couple of days and eventually, you’ll make a habit of it. It may be things as simple as beating the traffic for the day or being able to say goodnight to your loved ones. We always tend to take these simple things in life for granted. Results of practicing gratitude may not be evident immediately and like all good things, this might take some time too. But once you have mastered the art of practicing gratitude, the results are inevitable and will last a lifetime.
Practice it for yourself, to be a better version, everyday. Be grateful to your loved ones for simply existing in your life, for the dog that wags its tail for you every day, for the people you work with you every day, who help you through your ups and downs at work, for that stranger who held the door for you today… If you want to be grateful, there are a hundred things around you which can spark that positivity!
What or who are you grateful for today?