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3 Benefits Of Gratitude And How To Get Started

Written by: Flora Bami, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Gratitude may be one of the most overlooked tools that we all have access to every day. It’s free, requires little time and energy, and can be done just about anywhere. It doesn’t require a great change in lifestyle or a huge shift in mindset, but the benefits are enormous.

First, let’s define what gratitude is. As per Robert A. Emmons, the world's leading scientific expert on gratitude, gratitude is the feeling of reverence for things that are given. By saying given, we mean the things that we're grateful for are really beyond our agency. They are gifts that come to us, and that's key to thinking about what gratitude is in our daily life. A grateful person can receive gifts that other people are providing for them or life itself as a gift. A grateful person is one who accepts all of life, good and bad. Everything that happens they see as a gift or potential gift.


It’s not just feeling good that gratitude produces positive feelings, but also leads to doing good, leads to acts of generosity and compassion. Grateful people are more forgiving. Grateful people are more pro-social. They’re helping others. Gratitude amplifies the good in frequency and magnitude. Isn't that fascinating?


Research reveals gratitude can have these three positive benefits:


1. Gratitude gives us a happiness boost


One of the reasons gratitude makes us happier is that it forces us to abandon a belief that the world is devoid of goodness, love, and kindness and is nothing but randomness and cruelty. By feeling grateful, we are acknowledging that someone, somewhere, is being kind to us. And therefore, we can see not just that we are worthy of kindness but that kindness indeed exists in the world and, therefore, that life may be worth living. It might be this link that explains why gratitude can be a powerful antidote to a negative view of life. We are receptive beings, dependent on the help of others, on their gifts and their kindness. As such, we are called to gratitude. Life becomes complete when we can give to others what we received in the past.


It is gratitude that enables us to receive, and it is gratitude that motivates us to return the goodness that we have been given. In short, it is gratitude that enables us to be fully human. Gratitude blocks toxic, negative emotions, such as envy, resentment, and regret ‒ emotions that can destroy our happiness.


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.


Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and happiness. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.


2. Enhances relationships


People like grateful people. Gratitude strengthens social ties. It cultivates an individual’s sense of interconnectedness.


This might be one important reason why grateful people are liked more is they're more likely to help. So, one major social benefit of gratitude is that people like you when you're grateful. Secondly, gratitude enhances our desire to affiliate with others, gratitude enhances our communal orientation with others, it enhances our tendency to include others, and it enhances pro-social behavior.


As per the research done by Sara Algoe and Amie Gordon, it enhances our relationships. Gratitude helps us find new relationships, gratitude helps remind us of relationships that are important to our well-being, and finally, gratitude helps us bind relationships that are important to help us live well.


Gratitude includes appreciation for what our partner and people in our life do, but also an appreciation for who they are as a person. You’re not just thankful that your partner took out the trash. You’re thankful that you have a partner who is thoughtful enough to know you hate taking out the trash. Gratitude means thinking about all of your partner’s best traits and remembering why you got into a relationship with them in the first place. Moments of gratitude help people recognize the value in their partners and that a valuable partner is worth holding onto.


Research suggests that people want very much to feel appreciated at work and enjoy saying thank you to colleagues, and grateful bosses are likely to get better results from their employees. Yet a recent survey found that people are least likely to experience gratitude at work than anywhere else.


3. Magnifies positive emotions and improves wellbeing


Gratitude increases one’s sense of personal worth. When we experience gratitude, we understand that another person wishes us well, and in turn, we feel loved and cared for. When you’re grateful, you have the sense that someone else is looking out for you, someone else has provided for your wellbeing, or you notice a network of relationships, past and present, of people who are responsible for helping you get to where you are right now. Once you start to recognize the contributions that other people have made to your life, once you realize that other people have seen the value in you, you can transform the way you see yourself.


Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present and participate more in life. It magnifies positive emotions. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures we get from life. Instead of adapting to goodness, we celebrate goodness. With gratitude, we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.


Wendy Berry Mendes, the Sarlo/Ekman Associate Professor of Emotion at the University of California, San Francisco, has conducted ground-breaking research on mind-body health. Much of her work has looked at how our emotions and social experiences, especially stressful experiences, affect the body down to the cellular level. When people have higher levels of gratitude, they tend to have much better well-being, lower anxiety, higher optimism, lower neuroticism, and depression. They're much less likely to be angry, and for those of you who truly practice gratitude often, their sleep quality tends to be better the more grateful they are.


Grateful people are more stress-resistant. Several studies are showing that in the face of serious trauma, adversity, and suffering, if people have a grateful disposition, they’ll recover more quickly. Gratitude gives people a perspective from which they can interpret negative life events and help them guard against post-traumatic stress and lasting anxiety.


The benefits are significant and can have a transformative impact on our life. We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Simply take a few moments to focus on all that you have rather than complain about all the things you think you deserve. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. If you don't know how to get started, I am sharing here some simple practices to add gratitude to your life.


Gratitude practices:

  1. Gratitude letter: write a letter to someone you are deeply grateful for and explain how her/his behavior affected your life.

  2. Keep a Gratitude journal: A gratitude journal forces us to pay attention to the good things in life we might otherwise take for granted. In that way, we start to become more attuned to the everyday sources of pleasure around us and the emotional tone of our life can shift in profound ways.

  3. Say thanks: write a thank you note or message to your beloved ones or colleagues.

  4. Perform random acts of kindness and show appreciation: give compliments, smile at strangers, and give someone a hug.

  5. Practice counting your blessings regularly, maybe first thing in the morning, maybe in the evening. What are you grateful for today?

  6. Reminders: you can also use concrete reminders on your phone, post-its them on your desk, or little messages on your mirror.

  7. Reflect on positive experiences from your past and how those brought you where you are today.

  8. Practice looking for the positive things in your environment and find the opportunity and gift in everything that happens.

  9. Recite positive affirmations: there are amazing resources available with powerful affirmations that help us to rewire our brains and focus on goodness and blessings.

  10. Use positive language in your daily interactions with people and your inner dialogue with yourself.

Finally, a powerful way of cultivating a sense of gratitude is to focus on what we can give to the world. Mother Theresa talked about how grateful she was to the people she was helping, the sick and dying in the slums of Calcutta, because they enabled her to grow and deepen her spirituality. That’s a very different way of thinking about gratitude ‒ gratitude for what we can give as opposed to what we receive.


Once you begin to reap the benefits of gratitude, it will start to feel less like a chore and more like a helpful tool that can aid in getting the most out of the one life you have. You will begin to appreciate the everyday pleasures you overlooked and the people around you whose love and support may have gone unnoticed or were taken for granted.


Life is a gift to be grateful for, not a right to be claimed. Everything in life is a gift.

Gratitude gives a sense of purpose and magnifies positive feelings. If you take things and people for granted, take a step back and imagine your life without them. This is how you can start your gratitude journey.


I'll end by saying thanks for taking the time and energy to read my article on gratitude.

Thank you!


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


 

Flora Bami, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Flora Bami is an optimist, an experienced and passionate integral coach, with expertise in life, mindset, relationships, and wellbeing coaching. Her main focus is on making your relationship with yourself healthier and reframing your inner voice based on self-love, acceptance, and compassion.


Her mission in life is to support people in their life journey to reach their potential and feel better and happier through individual coaching and setting up wellbeing programs in big organizations.


Better people, better world!


Happier people, happier world!


After going through a deep transformation herself and turning trauma into a gift, she dedicated her life to supporting people reconnecting with their true selves.

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