This month I would do a detour from my usual focus on physical health and take a quick look at our mental health and overall wellbeing. So what does gratitude have to do with my wellbeing you ask? Everything! Gratitude is a positive emotion and research has shown that positive emotions are important for our ability to thrive and flourish. Living a life full of gratitude can improve both our physical, mental and spiritual health. Gratitude is associated with having a greater sense of wellbeing, greater life satisfaction, increased optimism, better sleep quality and improved relationships. Now who doesn’t want that?
I bet if there was some sort of instrument that measures our expression of gratitude such an instrument will certainly overshoot its limits as we turn a new year. Our gratitude levels are at the highest at year-end and as we begin a new one. We are often full of gratitude for making it through the previous year and for the New Year, we are grateful for life, health and the possibilities that it holds. But as we settle into the year our attention is once again focused on everyday living and our gratitude level slowly wanes except for occasional moments of celebrations. Gratitude should be a daily occurrence in our lives; we are to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and the best part is that cultivating gratitude costs nothing and takes minimal time. Practicing gratitude is a subtle shift in our mindset that can truly transform our lives in a positive way!
So what is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation for what is valuable and meaningful; it is a feeling of thankfulness for the blessings we have received. Gratitude isn’t just an action, like saying thank you when someone passes you something (though that’s important too)! Gratitude is an emotion that we genuinely feel and an attitude we adopt. It is those deep feelings and grateful attitude that can improve our lives!
Why is Gratitude Important?
- Research has shown that practicing gratitude results in less negative
- It counters materialism thereby increasing contentment.
- It allows celebration of the present.
- It blocks toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, depression.
- Grateful people are more stress-resilient.
- It strengthens social ties and self-worth.
Tips to show Gratitude, Feel Great and improve your Life:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal
Take a few minutes every day to write down one or two things that you are grateful for, and then write down three to five reasons, experiences, or examples of why you are grateful for it. This can dramatically improve your mindset and improve your life! I started this practice a year and half ago and the positive difference I have experienced is amazing! I find myself being more mindful, less anxious, less concerned about little things that used to bother me.
- Speak your Gratitude
Expressing gratitude increases our happiness by helping us notice the good things that are already happening. One of the healthiest and most positive things we can do in our lives is to express our gratitude to the people around us. Tell someone how much you appreciate them. Tell someone that something they did mattered to you. When people make an impact, let them know, be generous with genuine compliments. We are usually too quick to point out people’s faults and ways in which they have wronged us, while slow to bestow recognition for good deeds and favors. Trust me; I was as guilty of this as anyone else until I started practicing daily gratitude. Expressing your gratitude to someone for something they do cultivates genuine appreciation and develops more positive relations.
- Gratitude Jar
Once in a day, or many times throughout the day, write something you are grateful for on a note and stick it in your gratitude jar. At a specified time, it can be weekly or at the end of the month, take some time to sit down and read through all of the notes in your gratitude jar. Not only will it bring you a burst of joy, but it will remind you of all the things that you’re grateful for in your day-to-day life that you may take for granted. Make it a family affair – it is a great way to teach thankfulness to kids. I recently started this ritual with my family and I can say it has strengthened our bond and my kids are more compassionate.
Is there a cause that you’re passionate about? Why not volunteer your time to contribute to the cause? Volunteering increases our feelings of gratitude and you can connect with others who share the same passion as you!
- Spend time with Loved Ones
Spending time with the people that we love can boost our positive emotions and increase our feeling of gratitude. So whether you’re sitting around a dinner table with your family - be present and grateful for it all.
Enjoy below my favorite Gratitude Quotes:
I can see how it may be difficult to express gratitude especially with the socio-economic challenges in the country and the daily struggle of meeting basic needs. But trust me; there is always something to be grateful for! A good way to interrupt the anxiety and worry is to be grateful, and cultivating an attitude of gratitude increases your coping ability. When you make a commitment to a gratitude practice – it’s healing.
Until next time……………be generous with gratitude for it is contagious!
Dr. Ramat Lawal-Unuigbe