There are numerous studies that have found that practicing gratitude enhances overall life satisfaction and subjective well-being. Gratitude is correlated with a sense of satisfaction with life and work, a positive mood, happiness, optimism, and hope (McCullough, Emmons, and Tsang, 2002). In addition, gratitude appears to impact anxiety, depression and negative moods.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” ~John F. Kennedy
Gratitude for Self
Having gratitude for myself and for others is my intention. It’s wonderful the difference I feel when someone thanks me or tells me they are thankful for something I did, even the little things that I just naturally do. But equally wonderful is how much more positive and supportive my relationships become when I remember to tell others how much I appreciate them. It creates a sense of bonding that lasts much longer than the word.
Gratitude for self begins with the simplest of things. Our bodies are incredible machines that function every single day without us even having to give a single thought towards it. If you find yourself struggling to be grateful, start with that – the fact that we wake up each day and our hearts beat and we breathe without any conscious effort.
Gratitude for Others
Gratitude for others begins with taking the time to stop and appreciate. When we are rushed or living outside of the present moment, we don’t allow ourselves the opportunity to take in what is happening right here and now. It takes time to change habits and remember to thank your children when they do something without being asked. Versus getting upset with the things they are not doing.
Take a moment today (and hopefully everyday) to be grateful for your health, your body, your mind, your community and your loved ones. Being thankful really can change everything. It brings focus to what you have rather than what you don’t and allows what you have to be enough.
Studies have shown that performing simple gratitude exercises, like keeping a gratitude diary or writing letters of thanks, can bring a range of benefits. Such as feelings of increased well-being and reduced depression, that linger well after the exercises are finished.
Now a brain-scanning study in NeuroImage brings us a little closer to understanding why these exercises have these effects. The results suggest that even months after a simple, short gratitude writing task, people’s brains are still wired to feel extra thankful. The implication is that gratitude tasks work, at least in part, because they have a self-perpetuating nature: The more you practice gratitude, the more attuned you are to it. The more you can enjoy its psychological benefits.