When I was a kid, I was told to 'count my blessings'. Did I actually do it? Well, no - I was too busy wondering why my brother got two Mars bars and I only got one... BUT - if I actually had...
Cicero said: "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." He argued that gratitude gave rise to hope, kindness, courage, patience, generosity and wisdom.
So is it possible that simply by practising gratitude, we could be happier, better people?
As it turns out, people who express their gratitude are generally happier and less stressed. They suffer less with depression, low self-esteem or anxiety. They tend to be more independent, develop healthy coping strategies, are more generous, sleep better and have a greater sense of fulfilment - in short they experience a much higher level of well-being.
Well, that's quite a thing.
So, how can we cultivate more gratitude in our lives? How can we be grateful when we feel low or when we are feeling challenged?
The folks over at soulpancake.com conducted a little experiment. They showed that when you think about why you're grateful for someone significant in your life, then actually tell them, not only does it make them happy, but you too! A lot!
participants who kept a gratitude journal, listing every day three things for which they were grateful, showed decreased levels of depression and anxiety
Similar studies showed that participants who kept a gratitude journal, listing every day three things for which they were grateful, showed decreased levels of depression and anxiety and achieved greater levels of happiness and subjective well-being. That's pretty impressive - and so simple!
So that’s two things you can do right away - think of someone in your life for whom you are really grateful - then tell them. Tell them why they are so important, why they mean so much to you - then notice how you feel. Notice how they feel - I bet it’s pretty good. Next, list three things from today that you’re grateful for. Some days this will be easier than others, so try these:
Thank you for this body, this home, this life. Even thank you, my sadness, my fear. Thank you for giving me a chance to learn something. Thank you for this day and all it brought to me.
Thank you for reading.
Tend the body. Free the mind. Heal the soul.