Given the stressful times that we live in, it is easy to get bogged down by negativity and blame things and people around us. But this fosters even more negativity in you and makes you feel even more overwhelmed.
What works is having an attitude of gratefulness, positivity, and seeing the silver lining in everything hard and unmanageable. However, for many of us, gratitude doesn’t come easily or naturally but has to be cultivated.
Read more to make an attitude of gratitude a part of your life and see it gradually change your life for the good.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude means appreciating and being thankful and valuing the things and people that you have in your life. An attitude of gratitude certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t feel pain or suffering but have the ability to focus on the positives in your life and are thankful for them.
Gratitude is the positive reaffirmation of the goodness around us. Instead of it being just an instant, gratitude is an overarching intention of thanksgiving. You can have a sense of deep gratitude for a stranger who has helped you, your friends & family, or a higher power who has brought valuable things into your life.
What are the obstacles that prevent us from practicing gratitude?
It’s true that some people are more grateful than others. While those who aren’t showing gratitude, are definitely not bad people but are facing some obstacles. Here are some reasons that prevent you from expressing gratitude:
- You grew up in an atmosphere of negativity and saw things and people being blamed never realising the power of gratitude.
- You don’t have the time for being grateful! This happens when our schedules are so packed that you cannot take time to reflect and express gratitude.
- When your peer group mostly comprises of people who complain and are generally unhappy and dissatisfied. These negative emotions in your immediate surroundings almost always creep up on you.
- You have become complacent in life and take things for granted.
- When ego and arrogance are your major traits.
How does gratitude help our mind and body?
While expressing gratitude, you experience a whole range of feelings that have tremendous benefits for your physiological and mental health. Here are some of the most important benefits of inculcating the habit of deep gratitude:
- When you intentionally make space for gratitude in your life, you feel less stressed, anxious, and panicked when something untoward happens with you. This in turn helps in helps in regulating your heart rate and improving your sleep patterns. This prevents the physical manifestations of stress such as palpitations, fatigue, cold sweats, etc.
- When you practice gratitude appreciation, your body produces dopamine and serotonin. These help in making you feel lighter and happier.
- Expressing gratitude helps you in responding better to stressful situations and traumatic events. It has been scientifically proven that those who practice gratitude suffer from lower post-traumatic stress disorder and have higher mental strength and resilience to deal with harsh situations.
- The power of gratitude is that it allows you to focus on the positives in people instead of dwelling on their flaws and quirks. This helps you to develop better and stronger interpersonal relationships and makes you more caring for others. Not just this, the magic of gratitude is that it opens the doors for more meaningful relationships in your life.
- Practicing gratitude helps in inculcating the feeling of empathy and forgiveness for others and makes you a kinder and less aggressive person.
- The power of gratitude is that it makes you feel appreciative of what you have and reduces the influence of materialism in your life.
- Gratitude helps in making you feel confident about yourself. This enhances your productivity and creativity in your personal as well as professional life.
Which are some of the most effective exercises for practicing gratitude?
While gratitude may seem like a simple thing of just saying thanks, it is not that easy to inculcate in your thought process and daily routine. It is easy to feel bogged down by unpleasant experiences and happenings.
Therefore, it’s necessary to practice gratitude with practical ideas, exercises, and activities. Here are some of the easiest ones for you to acquire the power of gratitude:
- Journaling: Writing down things that you are grateful for is one of the easiest ways to start. The practice of writing down is more affirmative than thinking and easily gets inculcated in your habits. It’s not necessary to journal every day. You can choose any day of the week that works for you and start.
- Wake up with gratitude: One of the best ways to start is starting your day with gratitude. Within the first five minutes of waking up, make a mental list of five things that you are the most grateful for.
- Meditate: Combining gratitude with meditation increases your happiness manifolds. Gratitude meditation involves clearing your mind off all the wandering thoughts and focusing on all the things that bring happiness to your life.
- Take a walk: Walking is not only a great exercise but is also a good way to practice gratitude. Start by thanking for your health that’s allowing you to take a walk. Observe and acknowledge the simple but wondrous things such as flowers, breeze, plants, etc. that we often take for granted.
What are the best ways to express gratitude?
Now that you’ve understood ways for practicing gratitude, here are some unique ways in which you can express it:
- The simplest but the most effective way is to say ‘thank you’ and mean it. When said kindly, these words mean the world to whom they are said. Who knows you may even uplift someone who is feeling unappreciated or lonely.
- If it’s a friend that you are thankful to, take him/her out for a coffee or a movie.
- Call or visit personally without any reason and check on the person and her/his health.
- Drop-in with an impromptu meal that you have cooked yourself.
- Gift an experience such as an online yoga session or a virtual exhibition.