Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an “Attitude of Gratitude”

While it may seem like an unnecessary practice, gratitude promotes positive well-being in a surprisingly large amount of ways and it’s as simple as consciously thinking about and recording what you have in your life that you appreciate.

“You should be grateful” is probably something we’ve all heard from one source or another. But honestly, why? What is the point of thanking the universe for what we have? Is there anything to gain other than trying to make ourselves feel better about what we don’t have?

The simple answer to these questions is yes, there is a lot to gain from being grateful. Here are just a few of the major benefits: 

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships
  2. Gratitude improves physical health
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression
  5. Grateful people sleep better
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength

Connect with Others

Gratitude can strengthen and improve relationships as well as promote new connections. Research shows those who practice gratitude are more likely to offer emotional support and assistance, share their possessions with others and forgive more willingly. Consequently, grateful people are rated as more helpful and more generous by their social networks than those who are relatively less grateful.

It’s natural to feel more connected to someone who shows you they appreciate your presence in their life; it’s a positive reciprocation that fosters healthy connections.

Lessen Depression, Anxiety and Substance Abuse

A large study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University showed that thankfulness predicted a significantly lower risk of major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, nicotine dependence, alcohol dependence and drug abuse.

In addition, studies show that psychological well-being directly associated with human potential and growth (or “eudemonic” well-being) has been linked to gratitude. Those who experience low eudemonic well-being are over seven times more likely to be diagnosed with depression later in life. So essentially, gratitude helps us reach our goals and has the ability to build resilience to depression.

Improve Self-Esteem

Gratitude helps people focus less on social comparison—those who practice are less likely to be envious of others and less likely to judge their own success in relation to the success of others. When you compare yourself to others rather than appreciate what you have, you’re not only expending more energy, but your self-esteem is left to hang in the balance of who’s better. Luckily for us, gratitude is an easy practice to pick up. Start by writing down the simple things you’re grateful for:
  • I’m thankful for my senses. That I can see mountains, hear music, smell baked goods, etc.
  • I’m thankful for the person in my life who’s always there for me.
  • I’m thankful I woke up today.
  • I’m thankful for my freedom.

The list could easily turn into a novel. If you say “I have nothing to be grateful for,” try thinking about all of the small things you have. It’s easy for humans to take our abilities and privileges for granted. Take the time to notice these things and be thankful you have them. And remember, there is almost always something you have that someone else doesn’t.

Start a Gratitude Journal today!

  1. Find a journal or use your phone (there are many apps available, too!) 
  2. Keep your journal in a place that you won’t forget to utilize it — like on your nightstand. 
  3. Reflect and write 3 things you are grateful for every day. If the thought of doing this everyday feels difficult at first, begin by doing this once per week. Some examples of what you can write down could include things such as: another day of being healthy, cooking a delicious meal or going on a long walk in nature. 

I guarantee that after you start a daily gratitude practice, you will realize how many things in your life you have to be grateful for, even during challenging times.
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