When was the last time you felt grateful for something? What did you feel grateful for??
More importantly, how did you feel after you expressed your genuine appreciation? Were you happier? Did you see the situation or environment in a more positive light?
We are all dealing with our own issues in life – at home, school, or work – and it can be hard to slow down and appreciate what’s going on around us. Some kids have all the things they want but they are never satisfied. Students are too busy with schoolwork that they fail to enjoy a nice, warm meal or play outside. Adults lose half the weekend worrying about the week ahead. We may feel dissatisfied with our lives and take the things that we do have for granted.
When we’re going through tough times, it is natural for negative feelings and thoughts to creep in and get stuck. What we can do instead is choose to see the world around us through a more positive and authentic lens. The simple but powerful practice of gratitude can do wonders for our overall outlook in life.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is a conscious, positive emotion that people can express when feeling thankful towards something or someone in their lives. It helps them recognize the meaning and value of the things they have instead of focusing on what they lack. The practice of gratitude can be used in big events in life, like receiving a promotion at work. It can also be something as simple as saying thank you to a friend for walking with you.
However, gratitude is much more than showing courtesy and good manners. It involves active recognition of the positive and showing your heartfelt appreciation. True gratitude is selfless, meaning that it doesn’t leave you feeling like you expect something back in return.
How can you practice gratitude?
As we go into the Thanksgiving and holiday seasons, we are reminded of the great opportunity to reflect on what we’re thankful for in life. It is an ideal time to slow down and for our thoughts to turn toward gratitude. However, it’s actually an important daily practice all year round that can support mental well-being. Here are some simple steps you and your family can try for your gratitude practice:
Jotting down your thoughts in a gratitude journal
Noticing the little things in life that bring you joy
Sharing the things you noticed at dinner time with your family or friends (There’s a vicarious benefit to gratitude too!)
Giving thanks through prayer or reflection
Writing thank-you notes or a gratitude letter to someone you’d like to thank
Doing something kind for a stranger or someone you know
Practicing gratitude isn’t a complicated endeavor; It’s free and can be done just about anywhere. It, however, requires a little bit of attention, time, and commitment to change. When you focus your mind and thoughts on things you are grateful for, you feel more optimistic and satisfied and express more compassion and kindness. There’s less room for negative thoughts. In this way, the practice of gratitude benefits you and your family’s overall physical, mental, and social well-being.
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Being grateful for what they have makes them less materialistic.
They learn to be generous towards others.
It is easier for them to make friends with other children.
Kids who practice gratitude feel happier and less stressed.
They are able to cope with difficulties effectively.
Their positive outlook helps them to focus and perform better at school.
Grateful kids have fewer health problems.
Practicing gratitude helps increase their self-esteem.
They can appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
Gratitude decreases depression and negative thoughts.
It makes teens less aggressive.
Grateful teens are more resilient and can easily cope with stress.
They sleep better and have fewer physical problems.
Gratitude helps adults find meaning in their work.
It makes them more efficient, creative, and productive.
Grateful adults have less stress and experience improved work-related health.
Being content with what they have reduces unnecessary spending.
Their commitment also improves their romantic and familial relationships.
Adults who practice gratitude are better at handling conflicts.
They are better at managing anger and grief.
Practicing gratitude takes effort and intention, but the far-reaching benefits you’ll get make it all worthwhile. Once you’ve done it consistently, it will start to feel less like a chore because the positive feelings will begin to flow more naturally. You will begin to appreciate the simple pleasures you overlooked and the people around you whom you have taken for granted.
However, gratitude practices can look different for everyone. That is why it’s important to find a method that feels effective and comfortable for you. If stress and negative thoughts are making it difficult to appreciate the positive things in life, it would be best to talk to a certified counselor or therapist.