Getting in the Gratitude Groove
This month, I've challenged myself to find out all about the positive emotion of gratitude. To be honest, I didn't actually realise that it was an actual emotion until I started to research it properly.
What is gratitude?
After looking at many definitions, my understanding is that at a basic level it is a feeling of deep appreciation and thankfulness, often towards a person or higher power.
Many definitions mention the giving of gifts - gifts that are unexpected and that haven't been bought, however I have to remind myself that it's not necessarily just gifts in the literal sense. If you think about it, every moment that we live is a like a gift - we haven't earned it or brought it about ourselves - it has been gifted to us.
There are two stages of gratitude. The first is the recognition of the goodness in your life, and the second is identifying the source of the goodness, which is outwith yourself. (Emmons, 2003)
Why is gratitude important?
I like this quote by Guri Mehta:
'Grateful living is important in the world because in our constant pursuit of more and better we can easily lose sight of the riches that lay right in front of us and within us.'
It helps us to become more aware of all of the things we've got going for us, even when we might not feel like we do. It enables us to become more positive and see the opportunities that we have in life.
As well as making the receiver of your gratitude feel good, studies have shown that there are also many benefits to you.
Gratitude has been shown to:
- Help you make friends. A study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek a more lasting relationship with you.
- Improve your physical health. People who show gratitude report fewer aches and pains, a general feeling of health and take more regular exercise than those who don’t.
- Improve your psychological health. Grateful people enjoy higher well-being and happiness and suffer from reduced symptoms of depression.
- Enhance empathy and reduces aggression. Those who show their gratitude are less likely to seek revenge against others and more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, with sensitivity and empathy.
- Improve your sleep. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you sleep longer and better.
- Increase in mental strength. Grateful people have an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations. (Morin, 2014).
- Enhance your self-esteem. People who are grateful have increased self-esteem, in part due to their ability to appreciate other peoples’ accomplishments.
(Ackerman & Oppland, positivepsychologyprogram.com)
Sounds good, eh? I bet that there are many more benefits, but I'd be happy with any of those!
How can we practice gratitude?
One of the main things to do is to 'press pause' in your daily life and take some time to think, look and notice what's around you. What are you grateful for and why?
Here are some activities to help you do that:
- Journaling. On a daily or weekly basis, think of things that you are grateful for and write them in your journal.
- Gratitude Jar. Decorate a jar and prepare lots of little slips of paper. Each day you should write 1-3 things you are grateful for on a slip of paper and pop it into the jar. When the jar is full you can look at all the slips of paper and remember the things that you are grateful for.
- Gratitude Stars. Little origami stars that can be opened to reveal a sentence starter for gratitude. The stars can be used in lots of different ways.
- Gratitude Pebble. Find a pebble that feels good to hold. Keep it in your pocket, on your desk or somewhere you will see it often. Whenever you see the pebble you should pause and think about what you are grateful for. You could even paint the word(s) 'Gratitude' or 'Thank You' onto it if you wish.
- Gratitude Letters. Write letters to the special people in your life. Think about things such as how you know the person, what special qualities they have, how they have helped you, what special moments you have shared together or the impact they have had on your life. Don't forgot to say thank you!
- Senses Walk. Go for a walk and pay attention to your senses - what are you thankful for?
Which of those appeal to you the most? Will you give any of them a go?
I'm going to pick a couple of them to try and will share my progress with you on Instagram.
And lastly, I would like to show my gratitude to you for taking the time to read this blog post and supporting my small business - THANK YOU! Mwah!