Growing up in Western world, we are constantly told be to grateful for what we have. At times this was pushed on to us as children because we were being too picky at dinner time or wanted the newest version of some toy. Needless to say, we might have gotten a negative connotation towards the word gratitude. However, studies have shown that gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, enjoy good experiences, improve our health, deal with challenges, and build strong connections. Perhaps we need to re-visit feeling gratitude and make it more intrinsic, rather than something that is begin pushed on us, and perhaps making us feel guilty when we don't feel it all the time.
"Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself" – Dalai Lama
Despite all of the studies that prove by regularly practicing gratitude we can impact positive change to mood, motivation and mindset, the daily practice of gratitude is not a widely utilized habit within our ‘quick-fix, instant gratification" society. Practicing gratitude is like going to the gym. You don't go once or twice and come out squatting 200lbs. You put the work in, and begin to enjoy the process of the feeling of accomplishment every time go to the gym. Several weeks or months down the road, you hit that goal at the gym. The goal itself is not the main benefit, its the fact that you became a person who went to the gym on a regular basis. Gratitude is the same way. Studies have shown that every time we practice gratitude we activate the brain chemicals that make us happy, gratitude can help relieve the psychological and physiological effects of stress.
So why are we not using this super power? It turns out that humans are not hard wired to be grateful, it doesn’t come naturally to us. We find it easier to grumble, complain, and think about all the things that could be better. What makes things worse is that “misery loves company” has a great deal of truth to it and there is generally no shortage of people around us to indulge in our complaining. Having a tribe of ungrateful people, also relieves the guilt we might feel this way of thinking as we are not alone.
So how do we snap out of it? We have to commit to the act of gratitude. We have to acknowledge the benefits and WHY we want to be grateful in the first place, and then we have to strategize how we will practice it. This seems like a lot of work at first but those who regularly practice gratitude are more optimistic, exercise more, and are generally in better health so its not just some passive benefit which is intangible. You will start to see results within yourself in a very short time.
Once we commit to living a life of gratitude, being grateful becomes a habit and we begin to naturally focus on what’s good in our life and create new tribes of grateful people. You begin to realize that though you may not have control of what experiences you have during your day, it’s possible to have a choice about how we respond, without getting sucked into a complaining mindset or feeling anxious about what we don’t have.
The intention with gratitude is not to put pressure or guilt on yourself to positive-think your way out of challenging experiences, or to deny their presence. The aim is to direct your focus away from dwelling on what’s not going well in life, while still acknowledging the existence of the pain. Some days will be harder than others but it is the process which we should focus on and trust. On our way to becoming a more grateful being, we start to transform ourselves in to better mind and body health and you will reap the benefits.
If you want to make gratitude a part of your daily life, contact us for your FREE consultation session. You will work with a coach as a team to strategize how you will develop this new habit into your daily life and start feeling the benefits of this super power.