Gratitude, Why it's Important.
One of my favorite topics and personal daily rituals is practicing gratitude. A topic that you may have seen me write about if you have been following for a while. Gratitude n. warm and friendly feeling towards a benefactor: thankfulness, showing appreciation, being thankful. A wise person once said that to be grateful is to have a great attitude—which I interpret as assuming a positive stance or position toward the present moment. The Latin root, gratus, implies pleasure or something pleasing. So, to be grateful is to be full of pleasure.
I often ask clients to think about what they are grateful for. Many of them struggle to find the right answer, or what they think I, as a clinician, want to hear. I can often see the wheels turning in their heads and remind them not to overthink, and that these things we are grateful don't need to be grandiose and may not be visible or tangible. Most commonly, people respond saying their family and friends. Which is great, we all have people in our individual lives who we are grateful for, however try to be specific in thinking about who these people are rather than clumping an entire group together. Why are you grateful for these things? Part of gratitude is also practicing mindfulness. For example, I am grateful for my mom, because she has always been my biggest support, and when I didn't have the confidence in myself, when I didn't see my value, she still believed and advocated for me and cheered me on. It has been shown that those who regularly practice gratitude by taking time to notice and reflect upon the things they're thankful for experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, have better sleep, therefore less fatigue, are able to express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. It can be hard to notice the things we are grateful for when we are in uncertain times or struggling in our own lives. I encourage you, among all the chaos, to take time and think about the things that you are grateful for, no matter how big or small. The simple things that bring you a sense of comfort, and pleasure. What better way to start the first day of a new month than with a grateful heart and positive mind.
So, tell me, what comes to mind when someone asks what you are grateful for? Is it the roof over your head, the clothes on your back, this mornings coffee, the sound of your dog snore, or your child's innocent giggles. Perhaps it's the sound of the ocean and the comfort it brings you, or maybe it's watching snow fall while in the warmth of your home. We can be grateful for so many things, that often we overlook and sometimes even take for granted. Good morning texts from a loved one, the ability to see another day and watch the sunrise and set. Life is full of wonder and so many beautiful reasons to be grateful, if we only slow down and pay attention.
It is said that in just 21 days of practicing gratitude you can increase your own happiness. It is something I added into my daily routine several years ago, and I truly believe it helped me become a better version of myself. I pose the question then, if in less than one month you could be a happier, healthier version of you, would you try it? If not, what's stopping you? Being grateful helps us turn our negatives into positives, and gives us the ability to learn, grow, and gain new insights, to love more, to be more giving, caring, and compassionate. Utilizing the strength of gratitude also helps us to strengthen our brains, assisting us in finding the good, thus raises our levels of happiness.
Consider in this moment the things you are grateful for, and hold onto those things for the remainder of your day.