WHAT IS GRATITUDE?
Gratitude is when you are conscious of the positive things in your life and are able to show your appreciation for what you’re thankful for.
WHY IS GRATITUDE SO IMPORTANT?
Gratitude is important because it’s an essential key to your psychological well being. Taking a minute to think about all the people, experiences, and things that you’re grateful for, has been shown to have enormous benefits and can instantly improve your mood.
LETS LOOK AT SOME OF THE BENEFITS TO PRACTICING GRATITUDE:
1. Hinders A Great Deal of Negative Emotions
Emotions like rage, envy, hate, resentment, shame, anxiety (the list goes on) take a significant toll on your mind. They inhibit your ability to feel good about yourself, along with the ability feel good about anyone or anything. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Robert Emmonstitled, “Why Gratitude Is Good“:
“This makes sense: You cannot feel envious and grateful at the same time. They’re incompatible feelings. If you’re grateful, you can’t resent someone for having something that you don’t. Those are very different ways of relating to the world, and sure enough, research I’ve done with colleagues Michael McCullough and Jo-Ann Tsang has suggested that people who have high levels of gratitude have low levels of resentment and envy.”
2. Combats the Negativity Bias
I wrote about the negativity bias in my last blog titled “4 Reasons To Cut Toxic People Out“. The Negativity Bias refers to the fact that negative emotions, social interactions, events, etc., have a significantly greater effect on the mind than something that is positive (or neutral). In short, the bad outweighs the good. I bring up this term, because it’s very easy to (and our brain has been programmed to) have negative experiences linger as a way to “protect” ourselves, which was useful back in the cavemen era. However, we’re no longer in “survival of the fittest” mode and there’s really no need to keep this line of thought going. Therefore, a great way to combat these negative thoughts is to express gratitude for the good that is going on in our life. Practicing gratitude makes us focus on the present, not negative past experiences. A simply way to express gratitude is to have a Gratitude Journal. Simply a few minutes a day, writing about what you’re thankful for really puts a halt to insidious thoughts. I’ll talk more about gratitude exercises towards the end of this blog.
3. Instant Mood Booster
We take a multitude of things, people, and experiences for granted everyday…unless you practice gratitude. I recently spoke to one of my friends, the amazing and talented comedian Don Barris, about my long commutes to physical therapy due to my back injury. He asked me how do I, effectively, deal with this stress and my response was…
“Even though these situations are annoying to deal with, I shift my perspective to be grateful that I’m able to receive medical care. I’m grateful I have a car, my license, the ability to walk, to see; to be alive.”
Simply repeating those facts to myself, I noticed an instant increase in positive emotions, positive feelings about my state of being, and awareness of how fortunate I am. Immediately making me happy for the little things that I take for granted everyday.
4. Increases Your Self Esteem
“Attitude of Gratitude”, they call it. As mentioned above, It’s impossible to be grateful and feel negative at the same time. Practicing gratitude on a daily basis accentuates the positives in your life. Even though you may feel like sometimes there aren’t any good things happening around you, I guarantee you that there are; and plenty. By focusing on the good in your life, daily, you’ll be less likely to compare your life (and self) to others and learn to acknowledge your own accomplishments and strengths. Rather than focus on how much “better” others have it, which is a result of envy and a major factor in low self-esteem, being grateful lets you be happy for others AND yourself. You’re doing the mind, body, and soul good by counting your blessings. So keep counting!