The power of gratitude and gratefulness - myth or reality?
What is gratitude? Why is it so important for our mental well-being? I mean really, can just being grateful have such a profound impact on our mental wellness?
Gratitude or gratefulness is the feeling of being thankful or appreciative towards something or someone. It involves acknowledging the good things in life and being mindful of the blessings we have. It helps us to cultivate a positive mindset, strengthens our relationships with other people and even animals, reduces stress and all the bodily sensations of stress, lowers our anxiety levels, improves our sleep and increases our resilience.
Practising gratitude is so important for mental wellness because it helps to shift our focus away from negative thoughts, sensations and feelings and promotes positive emotions, leading to increased well-being and happiness.
Practising gratitude helps us feel positive emotions such as happiness, joy and contentment. Gratitude also helps you to reduce your stress, anxieties and worries by promoting a positive outlook on life. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we tend to worry less about what is missing in our lives.
Feeling grateful has been found to improve the quality of our sleep. Just think about it for a minute, if we are not worrying about stuff, then we are able to sleep better, it is not rocket science! Insomnia is normally a result of excessive worrying. So when we are more at peace, our quality of sleep is hugely improved and we are able to sleep for longer without any disturbances in the night.
Gratitude has also been found to help us bounce back from difficult times. When we focus on what we are grateful for, we are better able to handle challenges and setbacks.
10 tips to become more grateful
Here are my top 10 tips to help you become more grateful.
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Take a few minutes every day to write down things you are grateful for. When I ask my clients to do this initially they really struggle. But if you just think about this for a minute.
As you are reading this, can you see? Are you reading this on your phone or laptop or tablet or Mac or iPad etc.? Do you live in the UK, or a safe country? Are you physically well? Do you see what I mean?
These are just a few examples of how I want you to shift your focus on to what you have instead of thinking of all things you have not got. Our bias is always toward negativity, so practising gratefulness will shift your focus to where it needs to be. So if you do that, you will realise that you are able to find at least 10 or even 50 things to be grateful for. Doing all this on a daily basis helps to shift your focus towards the positive and helps you to recognise the good things that are in your life.
2. Practice mindfulness
Stay present in the moment and be mindful of the sensations, emotions, and experiences that you are having. This helps you to appreciate the small things in life and can help you to feel more grateful and more present.
Remember mindfulness does not need to be complicated. I always explain to my clients that just standing outside observing the birds or flowers or trees can help us be in the moment of now and therefore that means we are practising mindfulness.
3. Say thank you
Expressing gratitude to others by saying a simple thank you when they do something kind or helpful for you. This can create a positive cycle of gratitude and kindness. People tend to forget those simple yet powerful words or gestures.
4. Count your blessings
When faced with a negative situation, try to find something positive to focus on. Counting your blessings helps to remind you of the good things in your life. Even when things are awful, there is always something - no matter how small - to feel grateful for. Try to find that silver lining somewhere.
Volunteer your time or resources to a cause you care about. Helping others (humans or animals) can be a hugely powerful way to feel more connected, resourceful, grateful and happy.
6. Practice self-care
Take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising regularly. This helps you to feel better physically and mentally, which can lead to increased feelings of gratitude. The power of self-care must not be underestimated.
7. Spend time with loved ones
Spending time with friends and family who you appreciate and who appreciate you is so positive and powerful. This can help you to feel more connected, fosters closeness, increases trust, promotes generosity and kindness and helps you feel grateful for the relationships you have.
8. Give back
Give back to your community by donating your time or resources to those in need. This can be a powerful way to feel grateful for the resources and opportunities you have in your own life. Maybe donate some of your time to a litter pick. It is incredible how a small gesture can have a huge impact on not only the area you live in but the community you are part of.
9. Practice forgiveness
Forgive those who have wronged you and let go of anger and resentment. This can help you to feel more grateful for the positive relationships you have in your life. Of course, this does not suit everyone, but if you are able to practice this, you will notice how the negativity just leaves your body, mind and soul.
10. Focus on the present
Try not to worry too much about the future or dwell on the past. Instead, focus on the present moment and the blessings you have right now. This can help you to feel more grateful for the life you are currently living. The more you practise this the easier it becomes.
If you can relate to this topic or if you are struggling because of the issues in your life at the moment and would like to develop this ability more, then do drop me a line or visit my profile or my social media to learn more. Maybe when you are ready, just click the email button below and see how we might work together.