In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we tend to be very distracted and forget to appreciate the things that matter in our lives.
Let’s start with gratitude.
Gratitude came from Latin word gratia that means graciousness, grace or gratefulness. It’s meaning is deeper than just happiness. It is having a thankful appreciation for the things that one receives, may it be material or not. Gratitude comes from the acknowledgment that there is an external factor contributing to a person’s happiness. Maintaining an attitude of gratitude gives us reasons to connect to other people and acknowledge the existence of those around us.
Why say Thank you?
Several researches show that expressing gratitude has indeed positively impacted one’s well-being. A study made by two psychologists from the University of Miami and California proved that a group of people who wrote about the things they were thankful for for 10 weeks were more optimistic, exercised more and had fewer visits to the doctor than the other groups who were instructed to write about the things that displeased them.
Another study showed that couples who said ‘thank you’ and acknowledged each other often were more positive towards each other and were more comfortable in expressing issues in their relationship. Managers who also recognized their workers and thanked them for their efforts have also become more motivated employees.
In another summary of different studies, people who keep a gratitude journal were reported to have fewer physical symptoms, more exercise, less physical pain and slept better. People also tend to relax when they are grateful. In a gratitude visit, 35 percent of participants reduced their depressive symptoms and 30 percent of those who had a journal had lowered depressive symptoms. People who also count their blessings had a significant decrease in their systolic blood pressure level. And those who expressed gratitude required less time to fall asleep and had more vitality and energy when they wake up.
In addition to these researches, these are some more of the reasons why gratitude can help boost a person’s happiness:
- It encourages reflection of positive life experiences
- It boosts self-esteem and self-worth
- It promotes building of social networks and strengthening existing relationships.
- It encourages selfless acts and behavior.
- It lessens negative feelings like anger, bitterness and greed.
- It releases stress and helps in achieving a deeper sleep.
Naturally-positive people are indeed lucky to have a healthy outlook in life. But for many, the attitude of having gratitude can be cultivated through adapting some of these habits.
- Always have positive reminders – be conscious when you are grumpy, in a bad mood and about to complain about something. Think of three or four things you are thankful for. Think of the reasons why you love your job and why you are working hard. Remind yourself that you are lucky to have a job that could sustain your family, etc. By having positive reminders, it would become easier to shift to a healthier attitude.
- Learn to compare right – we tend to become insecure or feel jealous of other people who have more than what we have or can do more than what we are capable of doing. This kind of comparison makes one feel inferior. But in cultivating the attitude of gratitude, you should compare yourself to those who have less than what you have and be thankful that you have more. And for people that have more than what you have, think of them as a guide and inspiration.
- Keep a gratitude journal – develop the habit of writing events and experiences that make you smile and the things that you are grateful for. By doing this daily, you are able to catalog your happy memories, which you can look back to and prevent you from feeling down.
- Meditate – having time to ‘be in the moment’ without judgment gives you time to focus and be grateful for the simple things such as the warmth of the sun and the sound of your inner peace while meditating.
It is not easy to form a habit, but by practicing these tips in just two to three weeks, you will not only become happier but you will also be a healthier person.
Image from Flickr.com. Used under CC license. Some rights reserved.
by Tanya Jamon-Navarro as originally posted at Cultivating an attitude of gratitude , Philippine Online Chronicles.