What does Gratitude mean?
Gratitude is a vital part of Buddhist philosophy; in the West, we have only just begun to rediscover its enormous power. Gratitude is one of the paths that lead us to happiness. Its practice can radically change our lives because it allows us to adopt a different perspective, more focused on the here and now, focused on what we have, rather than on what we lack.
In recent years, scientific psychology has also begun to take an interest in gratitude, giving rise to a series of studies that demonstrate its importance in improving our emotional well-being.
In this journey we will be providing you with 30 prompts, you can do 1 prompt a day and in the end, reflect on how you felt.
Seven effects of gratitude that will change your life.
1. It will make you happier.
People experience gratitude in different ways: some people count their gifts, others enjoy what life has given them, and still, others choose to share with others. However, no matter what form it takes, it has been proven that the mere fact of feeling grateful allows us to be happier.
In a study conducted at the University of California, psychologists asked some participants to make a 10-week list of things they could be grateful for. Others were simply asked to write about a neutral topic. After that time, it was found that people who had practiced gratitude reported feeling 25% happier and more satisfied with life. Take a look at our 30-day Happiness Challenge in order to learn more about happiness
2. It will bring you greater satisfaction.
Gratitude is not only about feeling better but also about thinking better. In other words, it is not a passing feeling but a way of thinking that lasts over time and generates changes in our attitude and vision of the world.
That is why people who state having reasons to feel grateful and recognize them also feel more satisfied with their lives. Gratitude encourages us to change the prism through which we see the world, allows us to realize the things we have, and teaches us to focus on the positive side of circumstances, rather than on the deficiencies. In this regard, Erich Fromm said: “if with all that you have you are not happy, with all that you lack, you will not be happy either”.
3. It will make others more willing to help you.
When we say thank you, we are not only expressing our gratitude; we are also motivating that person to help us again. When we thank someone for their help, we tell them that we recognize their effort and that it has been relevant to us.
A study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania showed that when people received a simple thank you email, their willingness to help again increased from 32% to 66%, almost doubling. It was also found that what motivated people to give their support was knowing that they were appreciated and valuable to someone.
4. It will help you fight materialism.
We all need certain things to live, but sometimes the desire for more is beyond our control. Society also exacerbates this consumerism. However, the pursuit of possessions only ensures a great deal of stress and permanent dissatisfaction.
The problem lies in the fact that consumerism and materialism lead us to continually focus on what we do not have, rather than feeling satisfied with what we have already achieved. Therefore, an excellent strategy to combat this materialism is to practice gratitude. Always keep in mind Epicurus’ phrase: “Don’t spoil what you have by wishing for what you don’t have; remember that what you have now was once something you only wished for.”
5. It will increase your self-control.
It is not true that emotions negatively affect our reason, or at least not always. To make good decisions it is not always necessary to “calculate” and have a “cold mind”. Feeling grateful guides us to make better decisions.
In a study developed at Northeastern University, psychologists told people that they would give them $54 immediately, or $80 within 30 days. Before making a decision they generated different emotional states: joy, gratitude, or neutrality. Interestingly, only the people who experienced gratitude decided to postpone the reward. The secret lies in the fact that by feeling grateful we shed selfishness and clothe ourselves with patience, enhancing self-control.
6. It will improve your health.
Gratitude reduces daily stress. When we feel grateful, we perceive that everything works well in our world, it is as if our “self” were in perfect harmony with the universe. Therefore, it is not surprising that gratitude ends up positively impacting our physical health.
A study conducted at Grant MacEwan University found that spending just 15 minutes listing the reasons why we can feel grateful, before going to sleep, qualitatively improves sleep quality. It has also been found that people who practice gratitude maintain healthier lifestyle habits and have a longer life expectancy.
7. It will help you to be more resilient.
If we keep in mind that, sooner or later, adversity will knock on our door, we will understand the importance of developing strategies to deal with problems and the suffering they can cause. Gratitude is one way to develop resilience.
Recognizing those things for which we can feel grateful, even in the worst moments, is an essential skill for coping better with problems and adopting a resilient attitude. This has been shown in several studies, including one conducted with Vietnam War veterans. This study found that those who experienced gratitude were less likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Three simple exercises to develop gratitude
The good news is that gratitude is a feeling that you can cultivate. You only have to put your mind to it. Consider that the worst enemy of gratitude is a habit. When we get used to something and take it for granted, we stop perceiving its importance; therefore, our satisfaction diminishes. It’s like when we walk into a room and smell freshly baked bread, but after a while, we get used to it and stop smelling it. In that case, we will have to leave the room and enter it again to perceive the aroma with the same intensity. With gratitude, something similar happens; sometimes, it is necessary to consciously direct the sight towards the reasons we have to feel grateful.
1. Keep a gratitude journal
This is a very peculiar diary because you don’t need to write too much, write down the reasons why you can feel grateful. Every time a reason comes to mind, no matter how small, write it down. You may find it difficult at first because the natural tendency is to focus only on the big goals, but as you develop this feeling, you will be amazed to discover thousands of reasons why you can feel grateful.
2. Before bedtime
Ideally, every night before you go to bed, think of three reasons why you can experience gratitude. They should be things that have happened to you during the day. There will probably be days when everything has gone wrong. It will be more difficult for you to find those reasons; however, if you try hard, you will discover they exist. The simple fact of being alive and healthy is more than enough reason to feel grateful.
3. Look to the future.
One secret to boosting gratitude is to look to the future, to appreciate the present. A very curious study conducted at Pomona College in California found that what makes thoughts of gratitude so valuable is the prospect that certain experiences will end. When you look into the future and realize that many of the things you enjoy today may not be there tomorrow, you will feel enormously grateful. Thinking about losses does not imply adopting a pessimistic attitude but rather helps us to appreciate more what we have and enjoy it while we can.
- List 4 things you are grateful for.
- Name some food you ate today that you are thankful for.
- Note 2 things about your body you are grateful for
- Describe an accomplishment in your life you are thankful for.
- Think of people around you who make you happy i.e (Family members etc) and think about why you are grateful to have them in your life.
- Describe Happy memories from school.
- What makes you happy on this particular day?
- Think of ways you can be grateful to others.
- What skill are you thankful for?
- What do you love about the place you live in?
- Describe one person at work who you enjoy working with.
- Take a look around at the universe, think of everything, and list those that amaze you.
- Any form of convenience that creates joy in your life.
- Are you grateful for anything someone has done for you?
- 3 songs that make you happy.
- Send a message to someone thanking them.
- Thank you parent or someone close to you.
- Think of the past year and write of three good things to be thankful for.
- Cook a meal or send a gift to someone thanking them
- Appreciate the season around you.
- List all the places you have ever visited
- Email someone at work and thank them.
- What small thing happened today, which made you happy?
- Think of someone who has a positive impact on your life.
- Give someone a gift or donate some money and reflect
- Thank anyone who has made an impact your life
- Go on a walk and take a photo of anything which you are grateful for
- Create a gratitude journal or Jar.
- Describe how this 30 Day journey made you feel.
Practicing Gratitude on a daily basis will help you feel more relaxed and happier. Try our 30-Day Journal Prompts and reflect on the changes you see in your life.