Gratitude: A Transformative Feeling That Packs a Punch
It only takes a day’s commute, interactions with co-workers or a visit to the local shops to notice that we live in a world of great human diversity: different cultures, religions, languages, socio-economic status, and lifestyle preferences, to name a few.
When engaging with others, we may not feel that we are similar at all. In fact, we are more similar than you might think. Our human emotions reveal that we often want the same essential things from life, like happiness, companionship, fulfilment, and acceptance.
Gratitude, often described as the act of being thankful, is a positive emotion that crosses all cultural and geographical boundaries. Yet, in its essence, gratitude goes beyond being thankful in a singular moment. It is not just an action but a deeper appreciation that creates a prolonged positive effect on a person.
Look deeper and you find that gratitude is an emotion, a mood, and even a personality trait, becoming a triple whammy of a feeling you’ll want to get behind.
"Feeling thankful suspends negativity and we feel privileged to have all that is ours"
Dr. Robert Emmons, an expert on gratitude and positive psychologist, explains that gratitude occurs in two stages: 1) the act of giving attention to and feeling what is good in our life and 2) the understanding that this goodness came to us from someone or somewhere outside ourselves. The meeting of these two parts creates a uniquely powerful experience, suspending negativity while we feel privileged to have all that is ours.
Challenge yourself to make gratitude a daily habit and here’s what you could get while doing it, even after a few weeks (it’s more than you may expect!):
- Feeling happier and more positive about your life
- Experiencing greater physical health—e.g. improved immune system and blood pressure
- Improving the quality of your sleep
- Interacting with others more easily in constructive and meaningful ways
- As the personality trait that has the biggest impact on mental health, it may help you be less prone to depression and anxiety.
If cultivating the experience of gratitude on a daily basis could improve your life in all of these ways, your next question might be: How do I make this happen for myself?
James Clear offers a catchy and easy to use method which he calls the 3 R’s of Habit Forming: Reminder, Routine, and Reward.
Reminder: Is something that triggers a desired action. It can be something as simple as brushing your teeth, sitting down on the bus, or drinking your morning cup of coffee. You can use these tiny parts of the day to remind yourself of your Routine, e.g. practising gratitude.
Routine (a few ideas to get you started):
Keep a gratitude journal in your bag or backpack. By going through the process of recalling, writing down and then reading the things for which you are grateful, you are enabling your mind to focus on the positive.
Reflect on what you have overcome. Life is full of challenges, so appreciate the lessons you have learned and the things you have accomplished.
Express gratitude throughout your day. Tell a loved one, a co-worker, and even a stranger that you appreciate what they have done for you. You’ll feel better for it.
Reward:Experiencing greater meaning, connection and positivity in life.
Find a method that works well with your day and make gratitude your new attitude. The benefits may just keep you coming back for more.