The Power of Gratitude

By Diane Lang

“Of all the positive strengths we’ve looked at, people who are highest in gratitude are also highest in well-being.” Martin Seligman.

We all know gratitude is one of the positive emotions we should feel as part of our daily diet of emotions, but that statement above really says it all. Gratitude should be one of the positive emotions that become part of your daily life. Gratitude for me has become a habit about four years ago and one of the best things I have added into my life.
Gratitude is a simple emotion to add in. Its the feeling of being grateful, thankful and/or appreciative. Cultivating gratitude doesn’t take much time or money yet the benefits are huge.

Benefits of Gratitude:

  • Gratitude improves our physical health. This includes feeling less aches and pains and feeling better overall health. It builds our immune system and grateful people tend to take better care of themselves.
  • Gratitude is the antidote to stress. Gratitude reduces signs of stressand anxiety. Basically being grateful on a daily basis equals lower levels of stress.
  • Gratitude reduces our toxic emotions such as resentment, envy,regret, etc. Instead, gratitude reduces depression and increases happiness.
  • Gratitude improves our relationships and socialization. Grateful people tend to have a more active social life.
  • Gratitude is a form of meditation and we know all of the benefits of meditation include calmness, a sense of peace, mindfulness, better sleep, etc.
  • Gratitude helps us to retrain our brain from negative to positive. It allows us to have an appreciation of everything and everyone around us.

Adding Gratitude Into Your Life:

  • Give thanks by paying it forward. We can have our kids start doing this at preschool ages. You can have your children get rid of all the clothes that no longer fit, toys they don’t play with, and bring them to a local church/temple or to someone in need.
  • Paying it forward is a great way to get a boost of happiness and raise your self-esteem.
  • Write a letter of thanks to someone who has changed your life. Write down in the letter what they did and how it changed/affected you. Then arrange to see this person (if possible; if not send by letter, email or call but in-person is best) and read the letter to the person.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Write 2-3 things you’re grateful for each day. If you don’t want to write, you can say it out loud or in your head.
  • For families of any age; at dinner times while sitting around the table, have each person say what they are grateful for. This includes everyone. I have a few families who have taken it a step further. One day a week, they will all say a thank you to someone at the table.

If you feel you keep saying the same things over and over and the activity is losing its meaning then its time to add “why” to your gratitude. Ask yourself what is one thing I am grateful for and then ask why. Asking why allows you to dig deeper and find the true meaning of gratitude.

What are you grateful for?