The Radiance of the Sun Within
Gratitude is an attitude, a way of perceiving life, in which individuals are willing to receive and acknowledge the beneficial actions of others. Gifts of Gratitude supports you in exemplifying the radiance of being instead of one’s shadows. A profound change in perspective, completely determining or altering the way we look at an experience.
We Feel the Effects and Benefits of Gratitude
Current case studies and research show that cultivating and practicing gratitude can reduce symptoms in cases of mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Practicing gratitude can also lead to increases in optimism, vitality, happiness, a sense of well-being, and a greater satisfaction with life. Grateful people tend to generate more positive memories, reminding them of the good in their lives. Those with higher levels of gratitude are viewed as more empathetic and supportive, more forgiving, and more likely to assist others. Grateful people also report feeling less envious and more generous with their possessions. They thus enjoy better quality relationships.
Gratitude also helps in coping with adversity. Those who practice it in times of adversity are more likely to seek and find a “silver lining” in their experiences. Finally, those who try to feel greater levels of gratitude report fewer physical complaints, more time spent in physical exercise, and better sleep duration and quality.
What Can We Do to Cultivate Gratitude in Ourselves and Others?
Even if we are not currently in the habit of feeling and showing gratitude, we can make it a way of life. Following are some ideas for recognising blessings and expressing thanks.
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Record daily or several times a week, three to five blessings you have felt or experienced, such as good health, a positive relationship with someone, improvements, or lessons learned. Focus on describing the experiences, including recording your thoughts and emotions about them, rather than merely cataloguing them or analysing them. Your purpose is to relive and savour those experiences, encouraging you to experience them more often.
Make a Gratitude Visit
Think about someone who has been kind or has done something for you whom you have never properly thanked. Consider, for example, parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, coaches, and employers. Write that person a gratitude letter, being specific about the details of the kindness toward you and how it affected you. If possible, deliver it in person, sharing the contents and expressing your appreciation. Tell the person how and what you are doing now. This approach will not only enhance your own feelings of gratitude but it will also encourage the people you visit to continue in beneficial service to others, knowing that the service is gratefully received.
Create a Gratitude Catalog
In addition to the journal described above, make a comprehensive list of all your blessings, many of which might also have appeared in your journal. After listing any of the obvious blessings that you may enjoy—such as health and family members—shift to “smaller” blessings, such as running water, electricity, flowers, and so forth. As part of this exercise, try to remember blessings that you didn’t previously recognise as blessings. For example, pain is a signal that something needs attention. A hard experience can teach us patience and wisdom. A wrong committed by another toward us can teach us forgiveness.
Eliminate Ungrateful Thoughts
Identify and list your complaining and ungrateful thoughts, and replace them with grateful thoughts and problem-solving strategies. We are prone to be more grateful when we recall how others have contributed to our success and happiness and when we focus on positive action rather than passive complaining.
Train Yourself to Use Gratitude Language
Make a habit of writing notes of appreciation. Say thank you frequently to your loved ones and also to others who serve you in any capacity.
Recognize That Things Could Be Worse
Think of situations you are glad you don’t experience, such as famine, war, or debilitating illness. Think of circumstances you would not want to experience. Be grateful your life is not more difficult as you consciously work to improve it. Demonstrate your gratitude by doing whatever you can to assist those less fortunate than you.
Enjoy the Journey
As you set goals and strive to meet them, remind yourself of your progress even if you have not yet met them. For example, if your goal is to lose 25 pounds, celebrate the 10 you have lost by noting and reminding yourself of health improvements: lower blood pressure, greater energy, stronger muscles, more flexibility.
Learn the Art of Being Content