Gratitude is the readiness to express appreciation for anything you receive from people or the Universe as a whole. Being grateful is crucial to sparking a positive personality and attitude. It also impacts your relations with society. At the same time, it has proven to have various medical and physical benefits.
“Being grateful is a way of living that can enhance your whole life, and when difficulties arise, gratitude can change the outcomes of your life.”
The first and priceless gift of gratitude is the happiness and contentment it brings to the person pursuing it. Various studies have confirmed that people who live in a state of gratitude are more prone to experience life in a delightful and positive way, even when difficulties arise. Grateful people realize and are thankful for what they have. That induces a state of positivity in them.
When one is well-aware of the importance of what they have, they turn out to be more confident and compassionate, which results in a boost of self-esteem. Moreover, when you appreciate others you are more likely to adopt appreciable things from them. You can incorporate their positive qualities within yourself, helping you become a better person. In a nutshell, gratitude is the way to ultimate satisfaction.
Our physical well-being is also connected with our attitudes. A study by the department of psychology at the University of Illinois in 2013 states that grateful people are psychologically and physically healthier. They are less likely to have aches and pains.
Being thankful means, you are satisfied. There are fewer symptoms of stress and depression in people with gratitude, and they sleep well to boot. Less stress and depression mean that you are unlikely to be hit by many dangerous diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
In another study, researchers found that the people who keep gratitude journals are more likely to engage in physical exercise. Hence, while gratitude makes you a better all-around person, it can help you improve your health too.
In addition to the personal benefits from practicing gratitude, we reap a lot of social benefits. The people who express their gratefulness to others have stronger social integration. They have more friends as people inherently love to be praised and acknowledged; society is more attracted towards positive people.
Many complications in relationships can be sorted out simply by being grateful for what the other person is doing for you, rather than complaining about what they are not doing for you.
Ways to Increase Gratitude
There are various ways to incorporate the attitude of gratitude in your life. A little gesture of thankfulness for what nature has blessed you with and a small token of appreciation for your significant others can bring all the above changes to your life.
James Pennebaker, a prominent researcher on expressive writing, says that writing helps to comprehend experiences. For gratitude development, it is highly recommended to keep a journal of great things that happen to you.
You can also keep a collage with pictures of the people and places and things you are grateful for having in your life. This practice will result in a positive boost to your personality.
If pen and paper is not your style, fix some time for yourself. Be close to nature and appreciate the beauty and all the little things that you feel you would miss if you were away from nature.
Thinking about the lessons and positive outcomes from stressful situations in your life would also help you to inculcate gratefulness even for the hardships that made you stronger, more resilient and in some cases, more human.
For instance, your boss fired you. You went through a tough time. But eventually you landed your dream job where instead of bosses you are surrounded by leaders who care about people. You can be grateful to that boss who fired you and for that stressful time because it was nothing more than an inconvenience that re-directed your life towards a better outcome.
Put an effort to minimize or completely erase the complaining behaviors, and then figure out how much energy and time it was costing you.
“We waste a lot of energy and time complaining, which creates negative outcomes in our lives. This is energy that can be shifted towards practicing gratitude, which will have a positive impact on our lives.”
Write a note or make a call to say thank you when you realize that someone helped you out of a bad situation. Develop a habit of saying thank you for the seemingly minor but significant convenience or support from others.
It is difficult to practice gratitude when you have many things going on at the same time. Yes, that’s life, but if you take the time to really focus on the person you are with and what is happening in the moment, that simple act of presence can make a big difference in your life.
Put on your calendar a reminder for gratitude. Just like you schedule meetings, and important events on your calendar, schedule moments of gratitude. In those moments you can practice any of the above-mentioned ways to show gratitude.
Why Companies Should Encourage Gratitude
Gratitude is perceived more as a social nicety than a tool for improving organizational performance. But it has influence on the performance of people in the workplace.
A Gallup survey shows that companies which encourage workplace gratitude, see an increase in quality work and reduction in absenteeism.
Another study by Harvard Medical School found that employees who receive an expression of gratitude before starting work made 50% better on their goals.
Workplace recognition and appreciation motivates people, improves a sense of accomplishment in them, boosts emotional resilience, fosters cooperation and reduces harmful emotions such as envy.
Using gratitude in a company is effective to resolve team conflicts and encourages a contagious chain of helpful behaviors. When leaders show gratitude, the same habit develops in the employees for each other, that results in a better environment and cooperation among the staff.
“Gratitude can really add to improved organizational performance.”
Activate a Better Life
Gratitude has the potential to change lives. If you are looking only at the have-nots of your life, and are not grateful for what you have, you will be unsatisfied and depressed. This can result in having a troubled relationship, stressful job hours, and overall a life you hate to live.
“By simply shifting your focus from the have-nots to the things you actually have in your life, you can improve your life dramatically.”
You would discover that you have many things that others may be deprived of and spend their whole lives to cope with situations you are not in. Appreciating those things would bring positivity in you and increase love for your life.
The known spiritual figure Rumi writes that “if you wear gratitude like a cloak, it would feed every corner of your life.”
“Being grateful for the good around you makes you realize the great things within you. It converts your haves into enough and opens you up to living in a state of plenty.”
The key to practicing gratitude is three-fold. First focus inward at yourself. Appreciate who you are, what you have, where you have come from, where you are going. Gratitude starts with you. Second, focus outward towards the people in your life, nature, and things you find interesting and worthy of admiration.
Finally, make time to share your gratitude openly with others. Making affirmation of what you are grateful for on social media for example. Sending letters to people you are grateful for, be it email, DMs or snail mail, will activate more gratitude in yourself, and also the recipient. Share the gift of gratitude with others.
Gratitude opens the door to living the fullest life possible for all involved. Let’s show each other more gratitude and make each other’s lives better.