Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. Charles Dickens
Gratitude is a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation.
Gratitude makes us able to recognise the positive aspects of our lives and be thankful for them. Positive psychology research shows that gratitude improves lives psychologically, socially, spiritually, and physically.
Gratitude is essential to building resilience. When life is hard, that is the best time to be grateful. Appreciating the positive sides of our daily life means that we don’t focus on just the bad.
Being grateful does not mean denying hardships. It just means that you continue to be conscious of the positive while acknowledging that you are also facing some challenges.
This positive attitude means that gratitude helps you become more resilient to life’s disappointments.
It also triggers our brains to be more focused on opportunities than threats and so helps to moderate stress.
Interestingly being gratitude is helpful but expressing gratitude out loud to others is even more beneficial.
Let’s have a more detailed look at a couple of famous believes in gratitude.
Robert Emmons is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. His research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and joy as they relate to human flourishing.
He is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he has taught since 1988. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana‑Champaign.
He is the author of over 200 original publications in peer‑reviewed journals or chapters. He has written or edited eight books, including Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You and The Little Book of Gratitude. He is the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology.
In his book “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier,” he suggests that you need to make gratitude an integral part of your daily life which will integrate opportunities to acknowledge the positive in your life into your day-to-day life.
Emmons has found that gratitude “can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Gratitude reduces lifetime risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorders, and is a key resiliency factor in the prevention of suicide.”
Robert Emmons explains the what, why, and how of gratitude in these videos.
Another famous believer in gratitude is Tim Ferriss. He is an author, investor, and podcaster. He is famous for his tips on productivity and efficiency.
In 2007, he published his book The Four-Hour Work Week. It was a great success. The book was featured on ‘The New York Times Best Seller list for 4 years and translated into 40 languages.
Ferriss then started his own podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show. In his podcast, he interviews world-class performers and explores their routines and habits. He then tests other habits himself and shares the results with his audience.
He wrote Don’t Like Meditation? Try Gratitude Training about what he found when he tried gratitude.
His process to try gratitude in less than 10 minutes was to ask himself the following questions.
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“Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.” – Steve Maraboli
Experiencing gratitude leads to positivity and a raft of other benefits:
Being grateful has wide-ranging beneficial effects on our emotional health.
Regularly practising gratitude will:
Positive emotions resulting from being grateful make you more friendly and sociable. People who express appreciation have a wider social circle and better relationships.
Grateful people are more empathic and less aggressive. A study has confirmed that appreciation not only helps you get the social support you need to get through difficult times, but it lessens the need for social support in the first place.
Gratitude is helpful throughout your career. As an employee, it helps to make you better at managing stress and depression. As a manager, it makes you more likely to praise your team members and less impatient.
Gratitude also has positive effects on our physical health. It makes us healthier by
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The more grateful you are the more you will enjoy the benefits of gratitude.
However, as with other habits, the usual rules apply:
Start by practising once a week. Set aside time each week to write down the positive things that happened to you.
You will feel the real benefits of gratitude if you can keep up your practice over a prolonged period of time and do the exercise carefully.
Rushing the process or not maintaining it will mean that you only enjoy a fraction of the benefits that you could have.
Different people find that different methods of expressing gratitude suit them best. Let’s look at a few ways you could try.
This is one of the most popular gratitude practices. It is simply to write down things you are grateful for daily. Revisiting this journal will remind you of all of the good things that you’ve benefited from. For more details on journaling see our new post on The Benefits Of Journaling.
Taking the time to personalise a gift shows care and appreciation for someone else. It can be as simple as a handmade card.
Get a jar and small pieces of paper. Whenever something good happens, write it down and put the paper in the jar.
Over time, you will collect happy memories. When you are feeling down you then take a note from the jar to remind yourself of the good things that have happened.
Make it a habit to thank your co-workers and colleagues directly when they help you with something.
Gratitude helps in building our resilience.
Appreciating what we have means that we don’t focus on the negative and can keep being positive.
We all have the ability to practice gratitude. We just need to look around and cherish what we have.