You’ve probably seen the word gratitude floating around on the internet, especially if you enjoy reading personal development and mindfullness content. Did you know that November is National Gratitude Month? Everyone agrees that expressing gratitude makes us feel good and studies show that it boosts your health, calms your mind, lifts your spirit and allows you to appreciate the little things in life… Earlier this year, I read that we have the ability to rewire our brains simply by stating three things we are grateful for, everyday for 21days. I honestly didn’t believe it until I tried it myself…
As a trainee counsellor and peer support crisis chat leader, I’m always on the lookout for simple, yet effective ways to help my clients and service users and I feel that it’s important to promote the methods, which I myself have tried and tested. Are you familiar with practicing gratitude or are you keen to find out more? I’d love to read about your personal experiences in the comments below.
So what is gratitude? Gratitude is the act of being aware of and benig thankful for the good things that happen in our lives and the act of taking the time to express appreciation and return the kindness.
Gratitude has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to our minds, bodies and relationships. Practising gratitude is so simple, however the results have been recorded as overwhelming… it’s a no-brainer!
Gratitude has both personal and social benefits. First and foremost, gratitude encourages and allows us to celebrate the present. Practicing gratitude allows us to magnify a positive emotion. Research shows that positive emotions are short lived, as humans we thrive on instant gratification. Therefore, we are capable and adaptable to positive change and positive circumstances, however, shortly after the novelty wears off.
Experiencing gratitude is somewhat different because gratitude makes us appreciate the value of something and when we appreciate the value we reap greater benefits and are therefore less likely to take the thing in question for granted. I particularly like practicing gratitude and encouraging others to do the same because it allows us to be present and participate more within our lives. Gratitude allows us to notice positivity more and magnify the pleasures we receive from life. We learn to celebrate the goodness and gratitude allows us to participate in our lives, rather than simply being a spectator.
In addition to this, gratitude blocks negativity and repels negative emotions. These negative emotions include envy, anger and resentment. A number of studies have also shown that practicing gratitude can also reduce the frequency and duration of depressive episodes.
You may not be surprised to know that it is not possible to experience both gratitude and resentment at the same time because they’re contradictory and conflicting emotions. When you’re expressing gratitude, you cannot be resentful to someone for having something you don’t have because you are appreciating what you have and where you are in your own life and on your journey. Studies also confirm that those who express a high level of gratitude experience low levels of envy and resentment.
Grateful people have a higher resilience to stress and negativity. Studies have shown that those who express gratitude are more adaptable to stress and have a quicker recovery from traumatic events. Expressing gratitude and looking for the little things in life allows us to change our perspective. In some respects its as simple as looking at a situation with your glass half full, instead of half empty. Gratitude isn’t a simple quick fix, but I honestly believe its 100% worth a shot.
Gratitude allows us to develop a greater sense of self awareness and self love. By practicing gratitude, we take stock of our achievements and therefore we value our efforts more. Gratitude allows us to take responsibility for our own actions and behaviours. This technique also allows us to recognise and appreciate what others do for us and in turn, learn to understand that others appreciate what we do for them.
Despite all the positive benefits of expressing gratitude, as with anything worthwhile, or anything which encourages us to work on our growth and self development, we will be expected to step outside our comfort zone which at times may feel uncomfortable. As humans it’s natural that we find it easier to give praise and compliments than to receive them. Furthermore, it’s easy to fall into the habit of a self-service bias, whereby if we do something good, we find a positive way to take credit, however if something negative happens we pass the buck and responsibility onto others.
With the above in mind, I have put together a number of resources to make the transition easier – are you up for the challenge?Remember gratitude is about taking a moment to appreciate where you are and pay thanks to the positivity in your life.It’s all about baby steps…What are your thoughts? Are you conscious of the positivity in our life? Why not share 3 things you are grateful for, in the comments below.