The power of gratitude
The practice of gratitude is an essential part of building a happy life
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is a feeling that arises when we appreciate what we have: a person, a situation or anything beautiful in our lives.
It is a pleasant feeling, close to happiness. Gratitude comes spontaneously after something good happens but it can also be a choice. You can make a special effort to invite gratitude into your life by practicing it daily. With time, you will find more and more reasons to be thankful and enjoy a wide range of benefits.
The secret of happiness is to be thankful for everything we have in life, even the smallest things. How often do you think that if you were skinnier, wealthier, or healthier, you would be happy and satisfied? Gratitude, as well as happiness, should not depend on circumstances.
"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
William Arthur Ward
Research on gratitude
The founder of positive psychology, Martin Seligman, defines it as the "scientific study of what makes life most worth living". Positive psychology focuses on positive states of mind, such as gratitude.
The psychologists Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough are two of the most famous researchers in this area. In particular, they investigated an association between gratitude and well-being. In 2003, they launched a study where they divided the participants into three groups and asked them to keep a daily or weekly diary. The first group had to write about things they were grateful for, the second one had to report about the things that irritated them, and the third group had to write about events that did not have an effect on them.
The results after ten weeks were quite promising. The first group, tasked with listing in their diary what they were grateful for, reported an overall better health status. Moreover, the quality of their sleep and their optimistic attitude towards life increased.
Benefits of gratitude
Do you want to improve your health? Count your blessings!
When we feel grateful, the brain releases happiness hormones such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. At the same time, it reduces stress. These physiological reactions can enhance our happiness, well-being and even improve our perceived physical health.
In particular, studies found the following beneficial effects of gratitude on health:
- Reduced depression symptoms. In one study, participants were asked to practice a few gratitude exercises, including keeping a gratitude journal and writing a letter of thanks to someone. Many participants reported positive changes for weeks or even months, including reduction of depressive symptoms.
- Improved sleep. Study participants reported a better quality and duration of sleep.
- Heart health. Studies even found a reduction in blood pressure and positive outcomes related to heart problems.
However, that is not all! The practice of acknowledging the goodness in our lives can lead to many more benefits:
- It boosts our mood and improves our relationships. We will have a more positive attitude, be emotionally balanced and happier. Showing gratitude to our loved ones is a great way to make them feel good, make us feel good, and make our relationships better in general!
- It reduces toxic emotions such as envy because we will appreciate what we have more, rather than looking at others. Additionally, gratitude facilitates positive emotions, such as hope and optimism.
- It improves our work People who practice gratitude are better leaders and create better networks. Moreover, they are likely to be more productive and make better decisions.
- It makes it easier to cope with stressful moments. From time to time, we all run into difficult days when everything seems going in the wrong direction. However, maintaining a grateful attitude in these situations makes it easier to overcome life's big and small difficulties.
Tips to cultivate gratitude in your life
Are you looking for ways to cultivate gratitude in your life? It does not take much! Try these ideas and see what works best for you:
- Keep a diary. Write every day at least three things for which you are grateful. Do it regularly even on hard days. If you prefer, you can use an app.
- Express your gratitude. Make a habit to thank those around you, sincerely. A heartfelt, thank you, to your loved ones, to the bus driver, to a colleague, to the waiter who brings you coffee! Take the time to tell them you are glad that they are around and to appreciate them. Writing a letter can also be a good idea. No time to write? Thank someone mentally; think of the person and about what he or she has done for you.
- Practice gratitude meditation. This type of meditation focuses on expressing gratitude for everything in your life. A good way to start is to follow a video or audio in which an instructor guides you through the session.
- Get inspiration from testimonies of how gratitude has made other lives better.
To conclude, find time to practice gratitude each day. It helps you to develop a greater awareness of the gifts of life and enjoy them to the fullest.
Now, the question is up to you: What makes you grateful today?