It is easy to go through bouts of anxiety, depression, or loneliness in our modern, hectic, remote lives. You can often feel overwhelmed and helpless. But, when these dark clouds start gathering around, remember that there’s always a way out. One great way is to count the blessings in your life and feel grateful for all the nice things and wonderful people you’ve been blessed with. This may read like a bunch of pop-psychology baloney. However, there is strong evidence that being grateful for what you have, instead of always chasing the next target or the next accomplishment, can lift your spirits and massively enhance your mental well-being and improve your quality of life.
For starters, the word ‘gratitude’ comes from the Latin word gratias, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude, then, is an appreciation for the things, people, opportunities, and other aspects of your life. When you are grateful, you acknowledge that your life is not all bad that there are many positive things that you’re thankful for.
The psychology of gratitude
While it’s easy to understand that being appreciative of the positives aspects of your life will enhance your mood and bring you joy, it’s fair to wonder if any lasting, positive effects being grateful can have. So, let’s do a quick roundup of some prominent research on this subject and see if science agrees with our belief here.
Leading researchers in Positive Psychology from the University of California, Davis, and the University of Miami asked one group to write about the things they were grateful for and another group about things that displeased them every week. After ten weeks, they found that members of the first group were happier and more optimistic, had fewer visits to a doctor and exercised more often. In short, they led better lives!
In another eye-opening research, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania tested the effectiveness of various Positive Psychology methods on a group of people. He learned that, when the task was to write and deliver a thank-you note, the subjects turned out to be happier than when trying other methods, and this effect lasted for a month!
These are just a couple of the many studies that have proven that exercising gratitude does not only make one happier and more hopeful but helps them be healthier and live a longer life. Several other studies have found that gratitude can help you sleep better, make more friends, improve your self-esteem, help you in your profession, increase your lifespan, and more.
Ways to inculcate gratitude in your life
1. Keep a gratitude journal
Looking to be more thankful and positive? Maintaining a journal for the things you are grateful for would be the simplest way! Just take a few moments in the morning or at night to write down a few things that have brought you joy or made you feel thankful. Do you know what would be even better? Read the journal back every few weeks. Those dark clouds of despair would go away in a *snap*.
2. Write a thank-you note
We all know people who have impacted our lives positively but whom we haven’t yet shown our appreciation for. So why wait? Think of a person who’s made your life better, write a lovely note telling them how much you value their support, and possibly hand-deliver the note. A sure-fire way to be more positive and nurture stronger relationships with the people you love.
3. Smell the roses
How often have you found yourself playing catch up with your day’s work, mindlessly running through a list of tasks? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. So, if you keep a busy schedule and/or keeping a journal is not your thing, just take a few minutes each week, like 10 minutes on a Sunday evening, and look back at all the good things that happened that week that you possibly missed. Or go a step further, call up a loved one and discuss those things with them. It works like a charm, trust us!
4. Practice meditation
As we discussed above, most of us lead fast-paced, often shallow and absent-minded lives. One way to be more present and grateful is simply meditating for 10-15 minutes every day. Before you think, “It’s too hard, I’ve tried it before,” don’t do it alone. Just put on one of the many excellent guided meditation videos available for free on YouTube. Here is a quick playlist that we whipped up for you!
We hope you can utilize the power of gratitude using these techniques to enhance your mental well-being and build better relationships. There are several other sure-fire ways to find moments of comfort and calmness in your daily routine, like getting some sunlight, listening to music, or playing with a pet. Check out how we use the opportunity to hang out with our furry friends to put smiles on each other’s faces at Nagarro!