How Gratitude Improves Everything
By Amy Dee
As a funny motivational speaker, one of my biggest fears is looking like a hypocrite. In no way do I consider myself more grateful, optimistic, or kinder than anyone else. In reality, these are topics that I read about, study, and try to practice in my daily life because I need and believe in them.
Nonetheless, I also spend time being irritable and indulging in self-pity. When this happens, I try to catch myself and step away to regroup.
I experienced many life changes due to COVID pandemic. For the most part, I’ve tried to stay positive as my speaking career reboots to virtual. In contrast, I’ve also hosted several self- pity parties.
POOR ME- my live speaking events have postponed
WAA WAA WAA —I’ve lost my live audiences
BOOHOO — I have so much to do
Overall, I am not a poor me type. When life gets challenging, I get stuff done. That said, I don’t walk around, surrounded by a glittery rainbow.
I’ve inherited the superpower ability to see possible pitfalls around every corner. Because of this, I can quickly become Whinederella and fall into a puddle of self-pity.
At times, most of us struggle to harness the power of Gratitude to overcome obstacles.
Despite this, practicing Gratitude is one of the most dynamic ways to change your attitude towards your life circumstances, increase Resilience, and transform your life.
In fact, a regular practice of Gratitude will help you deal with challenges and setbacks. This essay will share actionable strategies that will enable you to see more happiness and abundance in your life within days.
What Does Gratitude Mean?
In short, Gratitude means thanks and appreciation. It comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In addition, gratus is a Latin word that means “thankful, pleasing.” That said, often, Gratitude encompasses all of these meanings.
Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on Gratitude. In the Greater Good, one of his essays entitled “Why Gratitude Is Good.” Here is how Emmons explains Gratitude:
“First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we’ve received.”
Next, he explains, “We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
To summarize, Gratitude has two core factors. Firstly, it is the affirmation of goodness. Secondly, it recognizes this goodness comes from outside of ourselves. As a result, Gratitude causes you to feel thankful.
On the other hand, this kindness doesn’t create indebtedness. You are not concern about having to pay it back. Also, your appreciation can be for something tangible or intangible.
As a result, Gratitude causes us to both recognize and acknowledge the good in our lives. Not only that, we usually see that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside of us. Subsequently, this causes us to connect to something larger than our selves. Whether this connection is to other people, nature, or higher power, we know we are not alone.
Gratitude throughout history
Gratitude has been praised as a virtue in almost every culture throughout the ages. In many religions, it is one of the core elements. Both ancient and modern prophets have recognized and taught the importance of Gratitude.
In addition, it is the focus of many religious ceremonies, rituals, and holidays. For example, let’s consider Thanksgiving in the United States.
The Mayflower colonist suffered greatly during their first winter in the New World. In fact, Forty-five of the 102 Mayflower passengers died in the winter of 1620–21, primarily from scurvy, pneumonia, and lack of shelter.
Nevertheless, despite all the hardships the Pilgrims suffered, they practiced Gratitude every day. Furthermore, they even set aside a day for Gratitude called Thanksgiving.
The Benefits Of Gratitude
Multiple studies have shown a correlation between Gratitude and increased well-being. Not only that, but this benefit also expands to both the individual and all other people involved.
Accordingly, research from Positive psychology has revealed that Gratitude has a consistently secure connection to increased happiness.
How Gratitude Helps
-Improves your health
-Helps you feel more positive emotions
-Allows you to relish good experiences
-Build stronger relationships
-Enables you to better deal with adversity
For this purpose, you can feel and express Gratitude in multiple ways. For example, you can remember the past by recalling a past blessing or a cherished memory.
On the other hand, you can concentrate on the gifts you experience in your present. Being thankful assures you won’t take good fortune for granted when it comes your way. Lastly, you can be an optimist and create a positive attitude about your future.
As you can see, Gratitude’s attitude is a quality you can continue to grow throughout your lifetime.
Gratitude Makes You Better
Of equal importance, studies have established that those of us who deliberately count our blessings tend to be happier and less depressed.
For example, Emmons and his team studied over 1000 people from ages eight to 80. These participants were required to keep a simple gratitude journal for only three weeks. The results were overwhelmingly positive.
Participants who consistently practiced Gratitude reported loads of benefits in the following areas:
Physical Benefits of Being Thankful
• It helped strengthen their immune systems
• They were less bothered by aches and pains
• Blood pressure decreased in some people
• Taking better care of their health and increasing their exercise became more important
• Some found they slept longer and felt more refreshed upon waking
Gratitude Helped Psychologically• Participant increased their levels of positive emotions
• They became more alert, alive, and awake
• Many reported experiencing more joy and pleasure
• It helped build optimism and happiness
Thankfulness increase their Social Strengths
• They reported feeling more helpful, generous, and compassionate
• Some said they felt more forgiving
• It transformed some into becoming more outgoing
• Many reported it Lowed their feelings of loneliness and isolation
Gratitude Increases Resilience
Equally important, Gratitude practices can help you better manage any hardships or challenges that come your way. To this end, Resilience is about control and perspective.
A Gratitude practice allows us to stop and reflect on the good instead of overlooking it and passing it off as unimportant. Moreover, it will enable us to put some space between our impulses and our actions.
This space allows us the ability to choose. It gives us the control and perspective we need to make the right decisions while dealing with challenging situations.
In short, when Gratitude becomes an intentional daily practice, it becomes a habit. This habit trains our emotions and our minds to thrive amid adversity. Our lives and perspectives change because we can now see the positives in tough situations.
Six Ways To Cultivate Gratitude
Emmons suggests the following ways to cultivate Gratitude:
1. Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter. To clarify, express your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. After that, make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
2. Thank someone mentally. No time to write? Instead, it may help just to think about someone who has done something beautiful for you. Then, mentally thank the individual.
3. Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thought about the gifts you’ve received each day.
4. Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your benefits — reflecting on what went right or those you are grateful for. To this end, sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. Meanwhile, as you write, be specific and think about your sensations when something good happened to you.
5. Pray. Religious people can use prayer to cultivate Gratitude.
6. Meditate. Finally, mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Of course, people often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”). It is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.).
Gratitude Makes Every Day Precious
Generally, researchers claim there are 27,375 days in an average lifetime. Needless to say, people vary in how long they live. Nevertheless, you can approximately figure out how much time you have left with the following calculation.
Multiply your age by 365, then subtract that number from 27,375 days.
To sum it up, one day you will have more time behind you than in front of you. Believe me when I say life passes in a flash. Unfortunately, we often speed walk through life without celebrating the beautiful gifts our lives contain.
The good news is that every day can be made more precious through Gratitude. So, slow down and savor. This life is a gift, but this gift doesn’t last forever.
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