It seems appropriate given the Thanks Giving celebrations In America this week that we should pause and explore the value of gratitude.
In Europe we are somewhat reserved towards what we perceive as gushing emotions or a Pollyanna approach to life. I will therefore support some of my assertions with scientific research to back it up. It’s a fact of life that the pawpaw hits the fan occasionally, but what is of importance is our attitude towards it.
I have made reference to the significance of an attitude of gratitude in previous posts. I consider it a mind-set choice that has a significant impact on the quality of our daily living at whatever age. If we want change in our lives the options are in the first instance that life and circumstances have to change or secondly, we are the ones that need to change. Often the latter is what brings about long-term, sustainable change.
The practical aspect of focusing on what we are grateful for not only shifts our mind-set, but it also serves as the lens required to find solutions to things we want to change. Being grateful means we have a more positive attitude to life in general. We always have the choice to reappraise negative situations or emotions in a positive light.
As like attracts like it will go a long way in helping us to resonate with like-minded people. I devoted a recent post to grumpiness and what is clear is that a negative and grumpy person is likely to find themselves a very lonely person. It’s not much fun being around someone who only sees the negative aspects of life.
There is scientific evidence to suggest that an attitude of gratitude leads to better physical health. Furthermore, there are findings proposing that gratitude has a positive impact on the heart and in general leads to better sleeping patterns. Gratitude also results in higher levels of positive emotions, satisfaction with life, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress. Such positive emotional outcomes can only lead to better physical health.
Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, but instead choose to deal with setbacks or challenges from a positive perspective. Sometimes a bad situation is a blessing in disguise. Focusing on all those things in our lives to be grateful for boosts our happiness and our general sense of well-being.
As with any new habit the most difficult aspect of it is to make a start. Begin by keeping a gratitude journal, listing those things and events that you are grateful for on a daily basis. The purpose is not to see how many pages you can fill for each day, but instead it will go a long way in creating a feeling of gratitude as your default position. Express your appreciation for others by saying thank you through notes or emails. It may be a small gesture but it will have significant consequences not only to the recipient but also you, the giver.
The added benefit of gratitude is that it snowballs. It is within our power to train our brains to focus on what is positive rather than the negatives of life. Therefore as with the philosophy of giving during the Christmas period, appreciation and gratitude are emotions we should develop and practice all year round.
Just as with any activity we repeat daily, it will become a habit with a positive outcome. There is always something we have to be grateful for, so start today by acknowledging it.