This is a friendly reminder that it would be great if you were grateful for what you have. Maybe you had a bad day and things don’t look so good. Everybody has problems, that’s a known fact. In spite of that, we should be grateful for what we have, even if we want more (which most people do). If you have food, shelter, enough money, internet, family, or other things/people, be grateful. We always want more and more; that’s what keeps us moving. That’s how we’re wired but we can keep in mind what we have. It’s an excellent way to put things in perspective.
I know many people are struggling right now, you should know that it’s temporary. I believe that things can get better and opportunities may appear. Be grateful for the little things you have or experience. Experiences enrich our lives and we should be grateful for them. Some are good, others are bad but nevertheless, we grow. It’s incredibly helpful for people with mental health conditions. It can be hard to cope and thankfulness can contribute to a more positive outlook of life.
Once we master a skill, we may be grateful for the time we chose to spend learning it, grateful for the fact that we persevered and grew as a person. That we now have the ability to do something very well.
We can be grateful for our pets. They offer unconditional love. Pets are precious and we definitely don’t deserve them. At least, some of us don’t. If you adopted your pet, be grateful that you found such a wonderful animal. Be grateful for the time you spend with your pet and all the good feelings he/she elicits.
Never forget to be grateful for your abilities, like walking, talking, writing, reading, etc. You are someone who is able to do great things. Limitations brought on by mental health conditions, sometimes make our lives hell. Only each one of us knows what he goes through, how we push through.
Be grateful for your strength and resilience. For having things/people that keep you here, even when things get rough. I know what it feels like to be suicidal and how many times I have had to tell myself that I want to live and think about all the people I love. I’ve thought about ending it a million times, I truly did. All these years, every year, sometimes every day, I thought about it. I like living. There are too many people that I love and things I like to do. I still have a chance in life. Being grateful is also a way to keep me grounded and see things in a more realistic way.
Benefits of Gratitude
1- Being grateful makes us feel good. When we count our blessings and see how fortunate we are, we experience a good feeling. It’s a kind of happiness or it can be happiness itself. It’s easy to forget the good things we have and take them for granted. Taking time to be grateful is a great way to improve your mood and feel more grounded, as you put things in perspective. Yet, only 20% of Americans think gratitude is positive and constructive emotion (as opposed to 50% of Europeans).
2- Gratitude has been proven to improve your mental health. There are so many negative feelings and negative experiences, so being grateful is a way to counter or fight that. It is a way to be happier and combat depression. When we are depressed, our thoughts are so dark and negative, especially towards ourselves. When you think about a defect or flaw that you have, think about 2 things you have that are good. Be grateful for those qualities, for those gifts that you have.
3- Gratitude helps you to sleep better. Take your time before sleep to be thankful for what you have. It will help you unwind before bed. Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time you need to fall asleep, and increases how much you sleep.
“The key is what’s on our minds as we’re trying to fall asleep. If it’s worries about the kids, or anxiety about work, the level of stress in our body will increase, reducing sleep quality, keeping us awake, and cutting our sleep short.
If it’s thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way.
Yes – gratitude is a (safe and free) sleep aid.”
4- It’s also good for physical health. According to reports, grateful people feel healthier and have fewer aches. According to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences, people who are grateful tend to go to the doctor and work out more often, hence being healthier.
5- Aggression is reduced and empathy is increased when people practice gratitude. According to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky, grateful people tend to be less aggressive and more aware of others feelings, acting in a kind way even when people are unkind to them. They also tend to not seek revenge.
6- Studies have shown that gratitude also promotes good self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sports Psychology concluded that the gratitude of athletes contributed to their good self-esteem; which in turn was beneficial to their performance.
- Gratitude has been shown in multiple studies to make people kinder and more friendly, and that because of that, grateful people have more social capital. This means that grateful people are actually more likely to receive help from others for no reason other than that they are liked and appreciated.
- Gratitude increases your recognition of benevolence. For example, a person with low self-esteem may view an act of kindness with a skeptical eye, thinking that the benefactor is trying to get something from them. A grateful person would take the kindness at face value, believing themselves to be a person worthy of receiving no-strings-attached kindness.
8- It helps heal trauma and increases mental strength. After all, we are grateful for everything that keeps us going and sustains us. Life doesn’t seem so dark and existential dread is diminished. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans who were more grateful had lower rates of PTSD. Life doesn’t seem so bad when you’re thankful for what you’ve got. According to a 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, gratitude contributed to the resilience shown by people after the 9/11 attacks. When we are thankful for things, even at the worst time of our lives, that creates resilience. Gratitude greatly reduces feelings of envy, makes us see our memories in a more positive light, elicits good feelings, and helps us de-stress.
8- Gratitude is also beneficial to your social and love life. It makes you nicer, more social, more trusting, and more appreciative. So it helps us make more friends, create closer bonds and improve our relationships. This creates new opportunities for friendship and love. Other people will normally be more inclined to pursue a relationship with others that show those qualities.
9- We are less materialistic and less self-centered when we’re grateful. By acknowledging and being thankful for what you have, it’s easier to put things in perspective; understand that most material things are not essential and that we can be perfectly happy with what we already have. We are less self-centered because we acknowledge who is important to us. We feel more connected. Gratitude is about focusing on others (on their good deeds) and not on yourself. To focus on what and who you have.
10- It reduces feelings of envy. In this day in age, with all the social media sites and the vanity fair that it is, it’s easy to feel envious of others. If you reduce social media use and focus on gratitude, even if it’s 5 minutes a day, you’ll feel better. We are more envious when we are not content with what we have. When we focus on what we don’t have instead of focusing on what we have.
In conclusion, it’s not only good for our mental health but also for our physical health. It affects several aspects of our life. A shift in perspective is sometimes what we need to move forward with a better quality of life.
Gratitude is something that you should cultivate and I will show you how.
How to cultivate gratitude
“There’s no happier person than a truly thankful, content person.”
1- Start a gratitude journal
Take 5-10 minutes out of your day or do it weekly; write down what you are grateful for. Try to remember little things as well as big things. Everything matters, even sensory experiences like seeing, eating, smelling, etc.
“According to psychologists such as Sonja Lyubomirsky at the University of California-Riverside, keeping a gratitude journal —where you record once a week all the things you have to be grateful for — and other gratitude exercises can increase your energy, and relieve pain and fatigue.”
This trains your brain to be aware of all the good things in life, things that you may be taking for granted and not noticing how good they are. You can also use an app, instead of a notebook or a Word document. I just downloaded several apps and I’ll be choosing one to review soon. I like to use apps because they have reminders, I’m a very forgetful person and this is really helpful.
2- Give back and pay it forward
Doing volunteer work, helping a stranger, aiding someone you know. There are many ways to give back. If someone is nice to you, be nice to someone else. Someone must have helped you in the past or helps you right now. Pay it forward and help someone else. Maybe the person in front of you on the supermarket line is missing a few dollars, offer to pay for it. Ask a homeless person if they would like to eat something and buy them something to eat. There are many things you can do, just be mindful of others needs.
3- Use your memory
Take some time to think about everyone that went through your life and helped/influenced you in a positive way. Keep them in mind often. Think about all that those people did for you, how you learned from them and evolved. Never forget where you came from and who helped you along the way.
4- Do a gratitude visit
“Try to think of someone who had a significant positive impact on you whom you haven’t properly thanked. It should be someone who lives nearby, so it’s feasible for you to see them in person (hence the “Visit” part).
Sit down and write them a thank-you letter, about 300 words describing how they helped you, how it made you feel, what you’re up to now, and what it means to you. Then, set up a meeting but don’t tell them why. We have stronger emotional reactions to surprises, particularly such a kind and moving surprise as this.
When you visit them, read the whole letter. Don’t rush, and take time to savor their reactions to it. You’ll both find yourselves reliving the positive emotions of the past and strengthening your relationship in the present.”
If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, consider telling your friends and family how much you love and appreciate them more often. This is a good way to strengthen bonds and deepen relationships and you will also be making someone feel good and appreciated. Remember that not everyone is appreciated properly in their lives and a compliment or good memory can go a long way.
5- Write thank you letters.
Even if you never mail them or read it out loud to someone in a gratitude visit. It’s a way to keep in mind what people did to aid you. It’s something that you are adding to your conscious and perspective. You are shifting your reality to one of thankfulness and love. It’s also very humbling and a way to keep our egos in check.
6- Meditate or listen to affirmations for gratitude
Meditating or listening to affirmations are good ways to cultivate gratitude. You can do Metta meditation (loving-kindness meditation), guided meditations for gratitude, affirmations for gratitude (sometimes it’s affirmations for gratitude and something else, like self-love, which is even better). Even if you don’t have much time, you can do them before bed, or take 5 minutes to meditate on the good things that happened that day. I can assure you that it’s a great way to fall asleep.
I use Insight Timer to do this. It has many guided meditations, binaural beats tracks, affirmations, etc. It’s a free app. You can also use YouTube or other apps.
In conclusion, there are many things you can do to cultivate gratitude. Don’t take what you have in your life for granted. There are always good events, things and people in our lives and we should focus on those (while working on fixing our issues). Shift your perspective and enjoy a better quality of life.
What do you think about gratitude? What are you grateful for today?
Images are courtesy of Pixabay.