As Thanksgiving looms, we tend to think more and more about the things we are most grateful for in life. Commonly, people think gratitude relates to showing appreciation for all the incredulous things in our lives. However, we believe that the term means much for than that. More specifically, we feel that gratitude is a conscious daily practice that isn’t influenced by material possessions or success. To quote David Steindl-Rast:
“Good luck can make us happy, but it cannot give us lasting joy. The root of joy is gratefulness. We tend to misunderstand the link between joy and gratefulness. We notice that joyful people are grateful and suppose that they are grateful for their joy. But the reverse is true: their joy springs from gratefulness. If one has all the good luck in the world, but takes it for granted, it will not give one joy. Yet even bad luck will give joy to those who manage to be grateful for it.”
It’s easy for us to be grateful when everything's going your way. Similarly, it’s much more difficult to see the silver lining when faced with adversity or tragedy. However, by practicing gratitude in the challenging phases of your life, you can truly transform your outlook and consequently your overall happiness and well-being.
The concept of gratitude has huge importance in recovery, 12 step programs, and spirituality. Wise members of these groups see the benefits of remaining grateful in difficult situations, such as early sobriety or the loss of a loved one.
How can you practice greater gratitude? The psychology really is quite simple: when we apprecaite the blessings in our life it keeps us in a positive mind-frame. This is especially helpful when we are upset, stressed or feeling low. In these trying times, we frequently find ourselves looking at the world through a negative light. Next time this happens to you, start by writing a list of all the things that you are grateful for instead - this will immediately disrupt the negative thinking from spiralling even further. Trust that remaining grateful is a practice, and can take time to become a daily habit.
Many people report that making a simple list of the things they are grateful for in their life is a great start to incorporating gratitude into their everyday lives. Others make sure to think of one thing they are grateful for before every meal or before they go to bed at night. Gratitude is about pausing throughout our busy lives to take a minute and focus on the blessings of life.
How can gratitude change your life?
People who practice gratitude experience many psychological benefits, such as ability to cope with tragedy, decreased anxiety, and lower chances of depression (Breanne Brown). It's amazing how one simple act can have such an impact. So this holiday season try and continue to practice gratitude after thanksgiving passes, you may find gratitude is much more than simply being thankful.
If you have any additional tips for practicing gratitude, please be sure to leave a comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts and perhaps it might help someone reading this post on their journey to practicing gratitude more frequently too!