Having grown up in a household that taught me to be grateful for both what I have and what I desire in life, I used to be puzzled as to why few individuals couldn’t be grateful for what they had and instead they focused their attention on what they lack. Thankfulness came easily to me, and I think what I overlooked was that gratitude had been ingrained in me from childhood. And, just as I was taught, all of us can develop this habit at any time in our lives.
Gratitude is viewed as a feeling by some, a virtue by others, and conduct by others. The most essential thing that we need to understand is that Gratitude is deeply rooted in human nature, and while it can mean different things to different individuals, it mostly refers to counting one’s blessings. It is a fundamental component that is influenced by a person’s personality, social and cultural surroundings, cognitive factors, and gender, to name a few. Negative emotions (such as narcissism, cynicism, jealousy, and materialism) and positive emotions (such as thankfulness) cannot coexist because while positive emotions make you focus on the good in life, negative emotions make you focus on what you lack, and situations and outcomes that aren’t as expected. These negative feelings also contribute to a decrease in life satisfaction and are a key impediment to appreciation.
Gratitude also offers a number of cognitive benefits that contribute to psychological and physiological well-being, as well as encouraging people to develop better habits in order to live a more fulfilling life. Some of these benefits include:
- Boosts self-esteem: Developing a grateful mindset and keeping a gratitude notebook makes it simpler to look at life with more compassion and recognise your blessings when you’re in need. With appreciation comes the ability to accept others’ accomplishments without comparing yourself to them, which leads to a better sense of worth.
- Aids in sleeping: Gratitude writing, when done on a daily basis, can aid in increasing sleep quality and leaving you feeling more energised when you wake up. This is because having a grateful mindset helps us appreciate what we have and improves our positive pre-sleep cognitions (thoughts that people have before sleeping).
- Enhances our happiness: Gratitude and happiness are directly proportional, which means that the more we think about the things we are grateful for, the more grateful we are. This also keeps depression and anxiety at bay.
- It reduces stress: When we count our blessings, our neurological pathways send out signals that makes us feel better emotionally. You’re probably wondering how these signals contribute to emotional well-being. The answer is simple: These neurological signals passes the information to our organs to secrete happy hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These hormones govern our mood and make us feel good and happy right away. They also helps us to combat the stress in our life.
- Boosts our resilience: Gratitude boosts our resilience by increasing optimism, increasing life satisfaction, making us happier, and protecting us from burnout. It also strengthens our resilience and allows us to bounce back when confronted with adversity.
- Improves our physical health: As previously stated negative emotions and gratitude cannot co-exist, therefore when we develop the feeling of gratitude we are focusing on the positivity in life. This has a long-term influence on our physiology, as we become more at ease and experience less discomfort
- Improves our relationships: We are grateful to others when we feel indebted by their actions, thus this allows us to form new friendships and strengthen existing ones. Not only that, but when we adopt a grateful attitude, our attention turns from self-centeredness to abundance, and this feeling of abundance makes us more eager to share with others.