Imagine being all alone in a cold, darkroom. Nothing to see, nothing to touch, nothing to hear, absolutely nothing. Just plain, dark emptiness. Due to the situation, you find it hard to even think about anything else. In that same dark room, you see a ray of light. Perhaps it’s a sign of hope?
It could even make you want to get up and search around the room. You may even see someone who is in the dark, or maybe see the light shine much brighter. That’s how practicing gratitude may help you.
Practicing gratitude is a crucial component of happiness development. When you’re going through a difficult moment, it might be difficult to remember to be grateful for the positive things, but there are several advantages to incorporating gratitude into your daily life.
Those who consistently practice gratitude by making time to observe and reflect on the things they’re grateful for feel more alive, sleep better, exhibit more compassion and generosity, and even have stronger immune systems.
And appreciation does not have to be limited to special occasions: Sure, you could be grateful for finally owning a car, but you can also be grateful for something as simple as a wonderful bowl of ice cream.
How will gratitude help YOU?
In contrast, gratitude is perhaps one of the most underutilized tools that we all have at our disposal on a daily basis. Cultivating appreciation does not cost anything and does not require much time, yet the benefits are immense. According to research, gratitude can provide the following benefits:
- You will feel happier
This is the topic on which many studies focus, and it may yield the most tangible findings. Numerous studies have found that gratitude increases pleasure and decreases symptoms of depression. Other negative emotions, such as jealousy, anger, and even regret, have been shown to be reduced by gratitude.
This makes sense because it is impossible to feel anything bad while we are appreciative. By practicing thankfulness on a daily basis, we develop the practice of being grateful for what we have, even if it isn’t precisely what we intended.
- You can improve your self-esteem
Multiple studies have demonstrated that gratitude makes individuals nicer and more pleasant. As a result, appreciative people have higher social value. This indicates that thankful people are more likely to obtain assistance from others just because they are loved and valued. Gratitude heightens your awareness of goodness.
A person with poor self-esteem, for example, may see an act of kindness with suspicion, believing that the other person is attempting to gain something from them. A thankful individual would receive the generosity at its value, thinking themselves to be deserving of unconditional kindness. You will feel better about yourself when you are grateful.
- You can have improved relations
Numerous studies have found that thankfulness promotes pro-social behavior. Keeping a thankfulness diary is enough to increase your likelihood of assisting people with their issues and providing emotional support. Gratitude makes individuals nicer for two primary reasons: Gratitude aids in the perception of compassion, which we have a natural want to return.
We may not realize when someone is assisting us if we do not feel grateful (the same way anger lets us know when someone is trying to harm us). Gratitude makes us happier and more active, which are both strongly associated with pro-social conduct.
- You can have better sleep
Ending your day on a pleasant note may help you sleep better and for longer periods of time. According to a 2011 research published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being, all it takes are 15 minutes of writing about things you’re grateful for to improve your sleep. If you don’t already keep a journal and have trouble sleeping, it’s definitely worth a shot.
You could find it useful to jot down any leftover thoughts or anxieties about the day, and then spend some time writing about what you’re grateful for. This might help you clear your thoughts and feel more optimistic before going to bed.
- You can increase productivity
Those who are insecure have trouble concentrating since much of their mental resources are consumed by their concerns. Those who are very confident, on the other hand, can be more productive since they can devote more of their attention to their task.
This occurs on both a conscious and subconscious level — we may be intellectually preoccupied with our fears, or sections of our subconscious mind may be exerting energy to conceal negative information and concerns. Because appreciation has been found to boost self-esteem and lessen insecurity, it can help us focus and be more productive.
- You can ‘bounce back’
We all have “lows” from time to time. Depression, anxiety, and loneliness can happen to anyone at any time. Gratitude will not suddenly render you “immune” to these unpleasant emotions. They are a component of the human experience. People who express appreciation, on the other hand, are more resilient.
That is, they “bounce back” sooner. These unpleasant mood swings just do not persist as long as they used to. Those who are more grateful have a more proactive coping style, are more likely to have and seek out social support when they are in need, are less likely to acquire PTSD, and are more likely to grow in stressful situations.
If you’re going through a significant life change, you might find it useful to reflect on what you’re grateful for to assist you to zoom out on what’s going on right now.
- You can be healthier
Gratitude or positive thinking, cannot cure cancer, but it can improve your physiological functioning. Improved emotional well-being can promote better health. Gratitude is a positive emotion.
Some of the advantages (e.g., better coping and treatment of terminal diseases like cancer and HIV,k1,k2 quicker recovery from specific medical operations, favorable changes in immune system functioning) are also applicable to gratitude.
In fact, new research indicates that individuals who practice thankfulness experience less discomfort, see the doctor less frequently, have lower blood pressure, and are less prone to developing a mental condition.
We understand that this virtue entails more than simply expressing “thank you.” Numerous studies show that gratitude writing can improve one’s happiness. Others demonstrate that inflammation in the body can be reduced. Each research provides information on how to enhance one’s overall health and well-being.
Gratitude is not a one-solution-for-all, but it is a tremendously underappreciated tool for increasing life satisfaction and pleasure.
How to start practicing gratitude?
Hopefully, you can understand why so many individuals in the personal development field are so poetic about thankfulness – it is a powerful thing. If this has encouraged you to begin your own daily thankfulness practice, here are some pointers to help you get started.
- Choosing the method you want
How do you wish to express your gratitude? Starting a gratitude notebook and writing things down is a common pick, but you might want to try something new, such as putting notes of appreciation in a jar and reading them when you need a pick-me-up. You might even include appreciation in your meditation practice. Try a few different approaches to see which one works best for you.
- Make it an everyday habit
Try sticking your new practice to an existing habit to help you adhere to it. You could wish to include a gratitude list into your current journaling routine, or run over five things you’re grateful for while in the shower. It will be much easier to sustain if you can stack it on top of another habit.
- Be more specific
When you initially begin your thankfulness practice, you may find it simple to focus on your health, family, or career. However, in order to get the most out of this activity, try to be precise and dig deeper. What about your day at work today made you feel thankful? What did your friend do that made you appreciate their presence in your life? Ask yourself different questions to be able to answer in detail.
- Think differently
When we reflect on what we’re thankful for, it’s easy to slip into the pitfall of saying the same thing over and over. This can cause it to lose its luster and fall by the wayside over time. Every day, challenge yourself to think of anything new. Being precise may be quite beneficial in this situation.
- Express it to those around you
The wonderful thing about thankfulness is that it just becomes stronger when we express it with others. As we’ve seen, expressing appreciation to people may strengthen relationships, so why not make it a practice to show appreciation to those around us more frequently? You might even write a letter or send a little gift to express your gratitude to someone. This will brighten both their and your day.
Whenever it comes to appreciation, it is critical to think beyond the box. Mother Theresa expressed her gratitude to the people she was aiding, the sick and dying in Calcutta’s slums, it allowed her to grow and deepen her spirituality.
That is a totally different perspective on gratitude—gratitude for what we can offer rather than what we receive. But, in my opinion, that may be a really effective method of fostering a sense of appreciation.
We all have the capacity and the chance to practice gratitude. Only take a few seconds to appreciate all you have – instead of complaining about everything you believe you deserve. Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the most essential strategies to increase your life’s happiness.
Related Article: 5 reasons to start practicing gratitude