Practicing GratitudeNov 20, 2023
Gratitude is the state of being grateful. According to the Oxford Language Dictionary, gratitude is “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and return kindness”. Gratitude is the appreciation of the different aspects of life. It is focusing on what you have rather than what you are lacking.
It is easy to put your attention to where the flaws are or what you do not have. It is almost natural to point out mistakes before appreciating anything else. By focusing on the deficiencies and the imperfections may perpetuate the feeling of inadequacy or not good enough. You are more prone to experiencing envy.
Having the appreciation of life in general produces pleasant emotions, such as warmth, welcoming, love, joy and content. It may also generate feeling of abundance. When you spend more time in gratitude, your emotions are better regulated. You get to experience more pleasant emotions and less unpleasant emotions. It increases your happiness in general. Your stress level overall decreases, as those pleasant emotions are generally more calming. When you are in a less stressed mode, you are better equipped to deal with trauma.
More gratitude less stress. Gratitude also helps with sleep. When you focus on things you are grateful for, you are less worried about things you are lacking or things that seem to be unfair. As you focus more on what you have rather than taking things for granted, your self-esteem increases.
Gratitude allows you to appreciate other people’s characteristics or strengths. You get to develop more connected relationships. This type of connection may happen at home, among your friends or in the workplace.
Would you rather spend more time feeling good or more time in envy, stress or constant feeling of lack?
It may be challenging at times to find something you are grateful for. The more you seek them, the more visible they are, the more sensitive you are to spot them.
The first step of practicing gratitude is to decide that there is something to be grateful for. No matter where you are, what you are going through, there is always something you get to be grateful for. It may be more challenging at times when it seems like you are surrounded by all things negative. I have seen it many times and I am grateful for those patients who were and who are my examples. No one asks to have cancer. Some of my cancer patients cope with their diagnosis much better than the others. One of the key differences is that these patients are able to practice gratitude in any given circumstances. They are not focusing on why cancer happened to them. They are not focusing on how unfair the world is to them. They are focusing on the chance of still being alive and they are grateful. They are grateful for their families. They are grateful for their medical team. They are grateful for whatever support, physically and emotionally, they receive. Patients and their families who are always grateful are less stressed. It does not mean they are going through an easier diagnosis. Gratitude simply makes things somewhat more tolerable.
The second step of practicing gratitude is to set the intention of doing it. Make the decision to give thanks every day. Start with every morning when you wake up. Think of something you are grateful for before you get out of bed. You get to decide what you are grateful for. When you stop taking things for granted, it is easier to appreciate your circumstances more. Certain things seemingly simple in fact have big impacts in our lives. For example, you get to be grateful for your health. This is something many of us take for granted, until one day you become sick. Without health, you cannot function properly. You feel ill, physically and mentally.
Another practice you can incorporate is gratitude journaling. At the end of the day, write down the things you are grateful for. As you go through this exercise, you get to appreciate your life even more. You will put less focus on what you are lacking, or what things should be.
As you are practicing gratitude, do at least one thing for someone else every day. This is a way to show your gratitude toward others. It may be helping out with housework without being asked to. It may be picking up a piece of litter. It may be listening to someone’s story.
One of the challenges is to practice gratitude in hard times. When you have the habit of giving thanks regularly, it will be easier to be grateful even when circumstances do not seem to be in your favor. You get to express gratitude even when you are in extremely difficult situations.
When you see things as choices rather than being stuck with them, gratitude flows out easier. Rather than seeing your current situation as being the only option, ask yourself what the alternative choice is. Most likely is that you do not like the other option, so much so that you automatically eliminated that as a choice. Be grateful that you get to choose.
Share and express your gratitude toward others. For example, in your workplace, tell your coworkers how you appreciate them and what you are grateful for. Gratitude, especially in the workplace, decreases burnout, increases job satisfaction and improves employee retention.
Make gratitude contagious. The more you practice and express gratitude, people around you will be affected more and more. They in turn will also practice more gratitude.
Are you ready to stop feeling stressed and overwhelmed? Are you ready to have more time to do what you want?