Want to be happier in life? Try gratitude. Gratitude is one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to everyday to enhance our wellbeing. Being grateful is free, it doesn’t take much time and the benefits are huge.
What is gratitude? It is an attitude and emotion that expresses appreciation for what we have as opposed to what we don’t have.
Focusing on gratitude in life has been shown to increase well-being by:
- Allowing us to celebrate the present moment. It magnifies positive emotions by noticing the good things in life and it can amplify the feeling of pleasure we receive from our experiences.
- Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions like envy, regret, resentment and depression. You cannot feel envious and grateful at the same time. It can help people bounce back from stress and it is one of the strongest “relaxants”. Spending just 15 minutes at bed-time, writing down things you are grateful for may help you sleep better.
- Being grateful can improve relationships. Saying “thank you” can help you honour your present relationships and it can help you to develop new ones.
- Gratitude stops us from comparing ourselves with others, which can help us to appreciate other people’s accomplishments, boost our own self esteem and it can improve how we show love and care to others.
- Gratitude can improve our physical health. Grateful people have fewer aches and pains, they report feeling healthier and they are more likely to exercise, eat well and take care of themselves.
We can all create gratitude and it only takes a few steps to do this.
Try these small steps to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.
- Keep a gratitude journal: Every day, write out 5 things that you are grateful for.
- Write a thank you note: Make yourself feel happy and nurture the important relationships you have by writing a thank you note, text or email, expressing your appreciation for the impact that someone has had on your life…and send it!
- Thank someone mentally: If you don’t have time to send a thank you note, just thinking about someone who has done something for you and mentally thanking him or her can be helpful.
- Pay it forward: Doing something nice for someone else, without expecting anything in return, can provide an enriched feeling of happiness and well-being.
Developing an attitude of gratefulness is one of the simplest and most productive ways to improve your satisfaction with life.
Cris Pirone, Psychologist