The year 2020 has tested us in ways that we never experienced before. But, amidst every little crisis that we faced (and are still facing,) we must never forget to take a moment to appreciate what we’ve gone through and find something to be grateful about. But what is gratitude exactly? What are some examples of gratitude that you can recognize today?
Whatever situation we’re in, gratitude can highly improve our disposition, allows us to see the good in the bad, and ultimately creates more happiness in our lives. It’s been proven that gratitude practices can increase your mental health. So how can you make gratitude a part of your life?
In this article, we’ll learn how to be grateful in the simplest of ways, while discussing different examples of how you can be more grateful!
- What is gratitude?
- Why should we be grateful?
- What should we be grateful for?
- My personal example of gratitude
- How can we practice gratitude?
- Wrapping Up
A significant part of your happiness is a result of your personal outlook. Being aware of your own emotions and mindset is a vital step towards happiness. This is covered in-depth in the section Internal Happiness in the biggest guide on how to be happy available online.
What is gratitude?
To begin, what is gratitude and what does it feel like? It can be as simple as uttering the words “Thank you” when we receive something nice from other people. We all know this because, as children, we were trained to express our thanks as a sign of good manners.
But, if we delve deeper into gratitude, it’s not just about being thankful for material things. Gratitude is more about appreciating life itself and everything that comes with it. Personally, being grateful is that lighthearted feeling when you’re content with where you’re at and what you have. It’s accepting your present and knowing that you’re not living the worst life despite the challenges that you face.
Gratitude is also what we often hear as “counting our blessings.” As we go through our individual journeys, feeling grateful means that we find pockets of joy in every turn. Even the smallest things are worthy to be grateful for especially when the road we’re treading on seems tough.
Why should we be grateful?
It’s true that life gets easier when you’re grateful for almost everything in your life – be it good or bad, big or small. In fact, science agrees!
The science of being grateful
In this study, one group of participants were given a gratitude writing intervention where they “gratefully remember” a hope that has been fulfilled in the past. Compared to the control group, participants who were grateful gained an increased state of happiness and hope for the future. This proves that taking a moment of gratitude can certainly improve your emotional state!
Another effect of gratitude is getting us through the tough times. A study has found that teachers who experience burnout at work could have higher life satisfaction and lower emotional exhaustion when they entered an eight-week gratitude intervention program.
Gratitude can improve your marriage
Even married couples can also reap significant benefits from gratitude! According to this study, spouses increase their marital satisfaction through felt and expressed gratitude, which means that a simple thank you can surely go a long way in a relationship.
Gratitude can also help reduce depressive symptoms among patients just by keeping a gratitude list.
What should we be grateful for?
It’s much more natural to feel grateful when everything’s going our way: when we manifest our dream job, when we receive a bonus at work, or when we finally take the most relaxing holiday that we truly deserve.
But, as we’ve established earlier, being grateful doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to be living the time of our lives – especially now that we’re at a point in history where our lives may have been turned upside down by the pandemic.
My personal example of gratitude
In my case, I lost my full-time job in the middle of the pandemic, a job that I’m good at where I feel valued and fulfilled. Given this situation, it’s easy to feel like my career has ended and my life has turned into shambles. I’m not going to say that it didn’t make me feel upset – of course, it did.
But, through this experience, I learned how to find value in the other things that seemed to be doing okay in my life considering such circumstances.
In this challenging time in my life, I’ve learned to be grateful for:
- My health and my family’s.
- Being safe at home.
- Having skills that allow me to find work.
- Having a source of income.
- Finding new ways to connect with my loved ones.
- My resilience in the face of adversity.
Because of this attitude, I was able to pick myself up from a hard fall. It kept me going and helped me grow amidst the struggles.
How can we practice gratitude?
Practicing gratitude is such a simple act, yet it can be so powerful. Here, I’m giving you a few tips on how to incorporate gratitude in your daily life.
1. Focus on the present
The past and the future can be major sources of anxiety for any of us. Negative energy brought by regret, failure, fear, or worry can make us feel like there’s nothing good in our lives. But, if we just take a moment to appreciate the present, it will allow us to see the things that make life worth living.
Grounding ourselves in the present drives contentment. By living in the moment, we become grateful for what we have, and we learn not to take things for granted. Just being thankful for a new day and for existing here and now can already go a long way.
2. Be grateful for the bad
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve learned to find gratitude even in trying times. Another personal example is when I get anxiety attacks. Even though it can get hard to manage, at the end of it, I still feel grateful for what I had to overcome because I’m able to be in touch with myself, learn my inner workings, and become stronger each time.
It takes a lot of effort to find the beauty in pain. But, when we have the courage to do so, it makes our struggles much more bearable and fruitful.
3. Keep a gratitude journal
Keeping a list of the things that we’re grateful for makes gratitude much more tangible. Because you have a list, you can see what you truly value in life, who are the people for keeps, and what you need more of. With a journal, gratitude can also have a lingering or permanent effect because you’ve written them down on paper. Gratitude is one of the many benefits of journaling.
If you’re writing a list, the things that you’re grateful for don’t have to be grand or written in a poetic way. It can be as simple as a bulleted entry of what made your morning extra special that day. Perhaps, it was the way the sun hit your breakfast table, or how you didn’t get any notifications on your phone when you woke up.
These are just simple examples of what you can be grateful for. The point I’m trying to make is that it can be anything. Just grab a pen and paper and start writing.
4. Set a gratitude ritual
When you’ve decided on keeping a gratitude journal, you may incorporate it in your routine. Perhaps, you jot down five things you’re grateful for before you go to bed. Or, you can also write stuff down whenever it feels right – it’s all up to you.
Aside from journaling, you can also find other ways to set a gratitude ritual. In my experience at work, we make it a part of our daily morning meetings to say one thing that we’re grateful for. It doesn’t even have to be work-related. Personally, it sets the tone of my day. It helps to take a moment to look around, and find something to be thankful for, even in the mundane.
Another tip is to have a gratitude buddy. It can be a friend with whom you can exchange daily texts about what makes you grateful. Or, you can tag your partner along, and, instead of simply wishing each other good night, you can also mention what you’re grateful for during that day.
5. Give back
When you’re grateful for something, wouldn’t it be nicer and more fulfilling if you pass that feeling around?
- If you’re grateful for your education, try sharing your learnings to others, one way or another.
- If you’re grateful for your recent paycheck, why not send a tip to the handyman who fixed your internet connection so you could work from home?
Spreading gratitude is like doubling its effect on you. It’s much more rewarding when you make other people appreciate life just as you do! This is how you can spread happiness, which can paradoxically make you happier as a result!
Every little thing counts as a blessing if you have a grateful attitude. Contrary to popular belief, it actually doesn’t take much to live a great life. Just as long as you appreciate what you have, live in the moment, and spread positivity around, there’s nothing that can keep you from living your happiest life!
What do you think? Do you have an example of gratitude and how being grateful has lifted your spirits? I’d love to find out in the comments below!
Writer and counseling psychology student. Firm believer of validating one’s feelings, prioritizing the inner-self, and finding happiness in a plate of chicken curry.