“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”Melody Beattie
As powerful as gratitude feels, it has to be one of the most important positive human emotions. It is a genuine appreciation for everything that you already have and continue to receive in your life.
This can be things, people or even something that someone does for you out of the goodness of their heart. When you are grateful, you recognise that your life is filled with more blessings than you can count. Truly, you have so much to be grateful for at any given moment and you seldom realise it.
The reason for that is simple. Your sights are always fixed on things you do not have. It might be your dreams, goals, materialistic possessions or desires.
It might also be the result of the continuous comparison to others that we generally tend to do. Another important reason is our basic human nature that automatically sees something as less valuable the moment we achieve it.
Whatever the reasons are, it is easy to feel you have nothing of value in your life while everyone else is happy and content. This is nothing but a mental trap that we fall into.
If we can only take a pause, open our eyes and take a good hard look at all the things and people that we already have, we will realise the sheer magnitude of blessings we have all been showered with.
That is why it is so important to be grateful. It opens up your eyes. As the quote above states beautifully, it helps you make sense of the past and brings peace to your present.
Does Gratitude Work?
A grateful person is a happy person. It couldn’t get any simpler than this. Take a note of the people in your life and observe how many of them lead grateful lives.
You will notice that these people are more likely than not, happy people. When you live your life with a constant realisation that you already have so much, it eases off the pressure of accumulating more and more.
Gratitude provides you with a gentle awakening, and you get the larger perspective of life that can otherwise get clouded and even disappear in the chaos of modern life.
This lifts the mountain of the perceived burden off your shoulders, and you glide along the path of life instead of wandering aimlessly down it.
Even scientific studies have explored the effect that gratitude has on your mental health. One particular study followed people who were suffering from issues like depression and anxiety that were told to write letters of gratitude to other people every week for three weeks.
After the study ended, they reported feeling much better than before compared to the second group of people who were not asked to write the gratitude letters.
If that was not revealing enough, the researchers went one step further. Three months after the study, they compared how the brains of the people who wrote gratitude letters were functioning compared to those that didn’t.
Their objective was to find out if their brains were processing information differently. They used fMRI machines to do the testing.
They found that the people who felt more grateful showed much greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex.
This is an area of the brain that is associated with learning and decision making. This shows that gratitude can have a positive and lasting impact on your brain and, as a result, your mental health.
There have been many other studies that all show that gratitude really works and can contribute greatly to a healthier and happy life.
Why Is It Important To Practice Gratitude?
The importance of practising gratitude cannot be stressed enough. We all know that we should instill as many good habits as we can in our daily lives. Gratitude, owing to its many benefits, tops the list of those good habits that everyone should practise on a daily basis.
Countless people will tell you how their lives were miraculously transformed once they started feeling genuinely grateful for everything they had in their lives.
Despite your many pursuits, all you really want is to lead a happy life. Happiness truly is at the core of everything we do. Gratitude is the direct and shortest path to happiness.
It is a no-brainer that you should make it an important part of your life. Many people think they should first achieve something of great value, and then they can start being grateful. That is the exact opposite of what you should do.
Even the law of attraction states that gratitude will fill your life with more blessings than you can handle. It says that the things or people that you are most grateful for will keep showing up in your life, without fail. At the core of it, it follows the principle of “like attracts like”.
If you feel gratitude all the time, the universe will present to you things, people and circumstances that will keep making you feel gratitude. You will essentially have created a positive feedback loop that keeps feeding on itself.
The result? Eternal happiness! It sounds too easy, but most things in life actually are! It is just us humans that have managed to complicate everything unnecessarily.
How Can Gratitude Improve Your Life?
There are a number of ways in which gratitude can enrich your life. It can improve all the core aspects that your life typically revolves around. It just makes life much more fulfilling.
As they say, it is not the years in your life that count; it is the life in your years. This is exactly what gratitude does. Fills your years with life.
A relationship is a two-way street. You do a lot of things to make sure the other person feels loved and cared for. This not only applies in romantic relationships but all your relationships – be it with your parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, etc.
When you genuinely show gratitude to these people, they feel immensely loved and valued. This forms the foundation for healthy and strong relationships.
As has been stated before, gratitude is the secret key for happiness. If you are grateful, you know exactly how blessed you are. You feel less pressurised to keep accumulating things, whether they enrich your life or not. It makes positive changes to your brain that enhances your happiness further.
It is often said that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. The opposite is equally true. When your mental health is good, it also leads to good physical health.
Gratitude keeps you happy and relaxed. It promotes the production and release of feel-good hormones which have all-around great effects for your body. You constantly feel great, which also works wonders for your emotional health.
Makes You A Better Person
We all like to be better human beings and gratitude plays a huge role in helping us achieve that. It instils in you some deep insights that help you lead an altruistic life.
You become more empathetic and helpful. It can even make you better leaders as you gain the ability to understand other people’s needs.
How Do You Practice Gratitude?
When there are so many benefits and positive outcomes of practising gratitude, it only makes logical sense to do it daily. As with any other habit, it might take you some time to completely make it a part of life.
However, if you want to live a better and happier life, it is necessary that you do it. In fact, it doesn’t even take much effort; just some daily rituals will do.
You can start off each morning by making a list of all the things you are grateful for. Make sure it doesn’t become a chore. Feel genuine gratitude for everything that you write down.
It is more effective if you can actively visualise what you write and feel those intense feelings of gratitude. You can also do this practice at night just before you sleep.
Try gratitude meditation. This involves sitting down in a comfortable position, closing your eyes and just visualising everything that you are grateful for. Since your mind is much more relaxed during meditation, the feelings of gratitude become even more powerful.
As you go through the day, remember to thank other people for being there or for any act of kindness. Let all of them know that you appreciate their presence in your life. Notice all the beautiful elements of nature and just feel thankful that you exist in such a beautiful world.
Do several acts of kindness every day or as often as you can. Someone wise once said, “We are at our best when we are in service of others” The intense feelings of gratitude when you do something selfless for someone else is simply unmatched.
It is also very important to not do certain things. This isn’t exactly “practising gratitude” but it definitely helps you live a more grateful life.
You should avoid speaking ill of anyone and when faced with a tough situation, avoid looking at the bad side (which is what we are all guilty of doing). Avoid conflicts and drama and just focus on peace and love.
Also, never compare yourself with others and what they have. It will only rob you of your happiness.
How Often Should You Practice Gratitude?
Gratitude is something that you don’t need any special equipment for or the “right time” to practice. It can be done anywhere, anytime and with anyone. You just have to be mindful of the situation and place you are in.
There are no “rules” about how often you should practice it. As with most things in life, you should just do what comes naturally to you.
It is something that you should feel genuinely in your heart. It just won’t work if you try to fake it. The law of attraction certainly won’t work if you fake it. That is where most people make a mistake.
Each one of us has countless things to be genuinely grateful for. All you need to do is just remember them and how difficult it might have been to get them.
The best practice that most people follow is to write gratitude journals early in the morning or just before they go to bed. They also like to be more thankful and appreciative of people and things throughout their day.
When you do this more often, it just becomes second nature and you don’t even have to think about actively being grateful. It just happens.
Life is beautiful. There are too many things in it that are nothing less than a divine blessing. It is us that complicates things. This must change if you want to be truly happy and live a fulfilled life.
You can choose to live a life that will inspire other people. Think of the chain reaction you could start in your community. You could personally be responsible for making other peoples lives better.
Little efforts such as these can make the world a better place. And we should all try to do our part.
Your life is in your hands. Everything depends on your decisions. You can decide today to live a more grateful life and initiate a healthy change.
Being grateful is the first step towards the life you really want to live.
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