Recently, I have been trying to put a focus on gratitude again. It is something that I really have to work at. It doesn’t come naturally. But, the more that I work at it, the easier it becomes. I am grateful for so many things. With September 11 yesterday, I was reminded of that day 13 years ago. I was single, sitting at an office in Salt Lake, working. It seemed that time stopped. I remember worrying about my brothers, as they were constantly traveling for work. I later found out that one had been on a flight during those moments of complete terror, but he was safe.
It seems to me, that in the moments of extreme stress and trauma, we are forced to look at what is really important. But, it seems that those things slide away from us too quickly. We forget easily and move on to the latest tv show, the newest piece of gossip, the next worry on our list of never-ending worries.
So, I have to work on an attitude of gratitude. If you want the truth, I have been pretty pathetic at this lately. I have been really good at finding all the things that aren’t going my way. It would be funny if it just weren’t so true! 🙂
So, in an effort to renew my own attitude, I want to share a few things about gratitude you may not know:
1. Gratitude can help you make friends.
Gratitude helps you become more aware of the things around you. It helps you pay attention. And, when we pay attention, we are more likely to notice the little things about the people around us: the new dress, the fact that they missed church this week, or when their mood seems a little off. When we notice these things, and then follow through with kind behavior, we are very likely able to make and keep friends. This is vital in developing good relationships.
Gratitude also leads to greater feelings of self-worth. When you feel better about yourself, you are more likely to reach out to others. You are more likely to extend yourself and be a friend. Pretty amazing stuff!
2. Gratitude can help you become more resilient.
In a recent study, gratitude was shown to help lower stress hormones in the blood and undo after effects of negative emotions. In layman’s terms, that means that gratitude can help you bounce back after a negative event. Gratitude can help you become more resilient (Source).
When you practice feeling thankful for the things you have, it gives you the courage to try again. You are able to pull yourself out of the doldrums of life and focus on what is going well. Even in the darkest of moments, we can find a way to be grateful. Gratitude is not only for what we have, it is an attitude about life. We can practice looking at life and being grateful regardless of our circumstances. We can practice gratitude in our circumstances.
3. Gratitude can help decrease depressive symptoms.
In an article from Cognition and Emotion, research was done on people who keep a gratitude journal. Gratitude journaling is writing down daily (or regularly) things that you are grateful for. Those who participated in gratitude journaling were found to have improved mood, better coping skills, and improved physical symptoms. Now, that is pretty awesome. Focusing on the good, and writing it down, can help increase our mental and physical well-being (“Gratitude and Depressive Symptoms: The Role of Positive Reframing and Positive Emotion”, Lambert, Fincham, and Stillman, May 2011).
4. Gratitude can help you become less materialistic and less envious.
Grateful people are rated as more generous and giving than those who do not practice the trait. Those who practice gratitude can begin to change their perception from “getting” to “giving”. Now, it doesn’t happen to everyone, or all the time, but there is a link between gratitude and giving.
Gratitude also helps you compare less and enjoy more. When you are grateful for what you have, you aren’t quite so jealous of your friends. Jealousy and comparison are both relationship killers. Even if it is never spoken, it can harm a relationship. When you practice gratitude for what you have and for the friendships you are in, you are less likely to compare and feel jealousy with others.
If you place emphasis on being grateful for what you have and being willing to share, you become less materialistic and envious. This leads to greater happiness and life satisfaction (Source).
I am truly grateful for so many things. What I need to work on is not being only grateful for things, but practicing gratitude in whatever circumstances I am in.
Here are a few links on gratitude if you are interested:
Are you feeling grateful today?
How does gratitude help you? Share your thoughts with me below!