Let’s check in with ourselves this holiday season and ask “how grateful have we been this year”?
Gratitude is the one trait that can set you free. It has been proved that feeling grateful and counting your blessings can actually help increase our happiness levels, as cited by one of Harvard Med School’s articles on positive psychology.
So what does it actually mean to be grateful in a practical sense? Being grateful is not about blocking out hard times nor is it convincing ourselves that life is just great when it might not be. Practising gratitude is a lifestyle, and it essentially means choosing to focus your attention on the good things in your life regardless of how big or small that thing is.
You could choose to be grateful for the small things in life such as having a comfortable pillow to sleep on at the end of the night. You could also be grateful for more important things in life that we often take for granted, such as our health or our family bonds.
Being grateful is also proven to be one of the main keys to manifesting inner happiness. You might have heard this quote before: “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything; they just make the best of everything they have.” As cliche as the that sounds, there is significant truth behind its meaning.
What the quote is doing is it’s revealing the one simple trick behind true happiness, and that is making the conscious decision to focus on the best of everything we have today and be grateful for it.
The core practice of gratitude and happiness simply boils down to avoiding attaching your happiness to the outside world or any future event and rather choosing to be happy today and now. You see, because happiness isn’t over there around the street, nor does it belong to someone else; it’s yours to own and it’s right here with you.
In the joyful spirit of this holiday season, let’s put our gratitude into question and practice. For example, when was the last time we told our parents or siblings that we love them? They are a Whatsapp away, so why don’t we take a few seconds right now to express our love to them.
What I want you to do after is notice the ripple positive effect you have just created by this simple act of kindness. We never know when we might lose someone that matters to us, so let’s make sure this holiday season is one that is infused with so much gratitude, love and kindness.
The 7 main benefits of Gratitude
As mentioned previously, it has been scientifically proven that gratitude has several benefits on our physical health, psychology and morale. The Psychology Today article, ‘7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude’, highlights the following main benefits of gratitude:
1. Gratitude can help you win new friends and allow you to expand on your relationships sphere, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion.
2. Gratitude improves can help improve your physical health. People who are generally grateful tend to experience less pain and a fewer aches according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. The reason being people who are grateful are more likely to look after their health
3. Gratitude can improve the psychological health of an individual. If the act of expressing gratitude becomes a habit in your life, it will rid you of several toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, frustration and regret.
4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky
5. Grateful people are able to to sleep better. According to a 2011 ‘Applied Psychology’ article, keeping a gratitude journal improves sleep. Make it a habit to take the time and note down the list of things you are grateful for before bed, and notice how the medium term effect of that is going to translate into better and longer sleep.
6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. Studies have shown that gratitude enhances your self esteem through allowing you to appreciate people’s accomplishments rather than be resentful for them. What being grateful does here is eliminate the need for social comparisons
7. Gratitude not only enhances your psychology but it increases your mental strength as well. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it also plays a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. Another 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for —even during the worst times—fosters resilience.
Lets practice Gratitude today, and right now
I hope this article inspires you to always be grateful.
Let’s actually start this exercise right now…grab a white paper and a pencil, and list the things you wish to express gratitude for today. After you’re done with that, i want you to stick this piece of paper somewhere visible; that could be on your fridge, or on your bathroom mirror.
I want you to notice the impact that this small piece of paper has on your day to day life.
Leave a comment below and let me know what are 3 things you are grateful for the most this holiday season?