Grateful Heart, Happy Life
Gratitude As Your Free Tool To A Better Life
Done complaining? Take it one step further and cultivate a grateful heart.
Who doesn’t want to be healthy, happy, productive, sleep well, have deeper relationships, and be in a good mood? Well, there’s something you can do to help you achieve just that. The best part is you can start today, and it’s completely free! As you can see by the title of this post, we’ll be talking about gratitude. Simply keep on reading to find out what exactly gratitude means, why it’s so powerful, and how you can best express gratitude.
Grateful Heart, Happy Life
We’re becoming more and more aware of how our minds and our attitudes can influence our well-being and therefore our lives. People are becoming more interested in mindfulness, meditation, and well, gratitude.
There are gratitude books, journals, calendars, workshops. We hear the word all around us these days, but what does it actually mean? Where does it come from, why is it so powerful, and how can we actually show gratitude?
Keep on reading to find out all that and much more!
What are the definition and the origin of the word gratitude?
Macmillan Dictionary states that “the noun gratitude comes ultimately from the Latin adjective ‘gratus’ meaning ‘pleasing’ or ‘thankful’. It came into English in the 16th century, either from the Old French word ‘gratitude’, or from the medieval Latin ‘gratitudo’.”
Harvard Health Publishing says that it comes from “the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context)”.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gratitude as “a feeling of appreciation or thanks”.
The article “Gratitude and well-being: A review and theoretical integration” on ScienceDirect says that “several researchers have conceptualized gratitude as an emotion that is always directed towards appreciating the helpful actions of other people.”
However, Scientific American says that “now, most researchers consider gratitude to be more of a “general life orientation,” distinct from similar concepts like optimism or hope, focused on appreciating other people, paying attention to what you have, feeling awe in the presence of beauty, focusing on positive things in the present moment, and understanding that life is short and must be lived to the fullest.”
What are examples of gratitude? What does gratitude look like?
Depending on how you define gratitude for yourself, it can look many different ways.
You can appreciate someone for doing something nice for you, like your partner cooking your dinner, or for helping you out in times of need. You can be grateful for a career opportunity, for your health, for making it through hard times.
Following the idea that gratitude is a life orientation, however, gratitude is more than that. It’s the overwhelming joyful, peaceful feeling you get at times.
Those moments when you see life clearly, take the cards that life handed you without complaining, and are truly able to be grateful for all the good that you have in your life and all the bad that you don’t have. It’s seeing your child smile and play, being healthy and full of passion and just being thankful for this blissful moment, for their life, and for yours.
It’s having a minute to relax in your “happy place”, having all your basic needs met, eating something delicious, watching the sunset, and just being in total awe of nature, the people around you, your life. It’s sinking into the moment and simply feeling alive. And being truly appreciative of that.
“We are never more than one grateful thought away from peace of heart.”
Yes, the feeling of gratitude can simply overcome you, but that isn’t necessarily always the case.
Sometimes it is up to us to choose gratitude.
Sometimes, we are blinded by negative feelings and thoughts, by our problems, struggles, unmet needs, and desires. That doesn’t mean we can’t experience gratitude. It only means we have to make a conscious choice to experience it. We need to take a moment, be present and ask ourselves “What am I grateful for?”. And sure enough, if we make that a habit, choosing, focusing on, and expressing gratitude, our life perspective will shift, our self-talk becomes more positive and gratitude will become a natural part of our days.
Gratitude means paying attention to things you usually either don’t pay much attention to or simply take for granted.
Related post: How to be happy with what you have.
Why is gratitude so powerful & how can a grateful heart lead to a happier life?
Not only do so many poets and celebrities swear by gratitude, but actual research also backs up its power.
Positive psychology research shows the immense positive impact gratitude can have on multiple areas of our lives.
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
—William Arthur Ward
Obviously, gratitude impacts our mental well-being. It reduces stress, makes us feel happier and more at peace. It stops us from comparison and envy. The best part is, that it’s not only a short-term benefit, gratitude can actually improve your mood and increase happiness long-term (Sheldon, Lyubomirsky, 2006).
“By merely acknowledging and appreciating the little things in life, we can rewire the brain to deal with the present circumstances with more awareness and broader perception.” – positivepsychology.com
When it comes to our general health, gratitude can boost our immune system, improve our sleep, increase our energy levels and even reduce pain.
Moreover, gratitude can even boost your career as it will make you more productive and a better decision-maker.
After all that we’ve already mentioned it comes as no surprise that gratitude can also improve and strengthen our relationships as it makes us inter alia kinder and more appreciative of each other.
When it comes to our personality, practicing gratitude will also make us less materialistic, which is directly linked to our mental health. The less materialistic we are, the happier we’ll feel.
And all that for free!
“Look closely and you will find that people are happy because they are grateful. The opposite of gratefulness is just taking everything for granted. ”
How do you show gratitude?
So, you want some of those benefits, hm?
Well, you can express gratitude in different ways at different times depending on the situation and what you’re grateful for, and to whom. You can…
Write a gratitude journal or make a gratitude list at the end of your day or right when you wake up.
Express gratitude in person.
Thank someone mentally.
Be present. Simply acknowledge that you’re grateful in a given moment and keep that to yourself, fully enjoying that feeling.
Pay it forward. Volunteer. Help a friend in need, or help someone anonymously.
Give a present.
Write a note.
Commit to monitoring your self-talk and make sure you’re not complaining too much.
Smile and be a light to others.
Make a gratitude jar.
Make a gratitude WHAT?
What is a gratitude jar you ask?
A gratitude jar can be a fun, simple tool for practicing gratitude and a great alternative to gratitude journals.
It’s simply a jar filled with all your blessings.
How do you start a gratitude jar and how do you write a gratitude statement?
All you need to do is write on a piece of paper what you’re grateful for and stick the not into the jar. You can write whole sentences or even just a word. You can make it a daily practice or simply write down notes when you feel like it. It can be your personal gratitude jar or one for the whole family, where each family member can add their notes. You can then come together to read all the notes, let’s say by the end of the year. What a beautiful family quality time that would be!
You still deserve more
With all that being said, being grateful for what you have doesn’t mean you don’t deserve more. Accepting and appreciating life the way it is today, doesn’t mean you should stop wanting, hoping for a better tomorrow. If anything, it can only help you in your pursuit of a bigger, better, brighter future.
We talked about the power of gratitude. When you have a peaceful mind, strong relationships, and good health you’re perfectly equipped to chase your wildest dreams as well as to deal with disappointments on the way. When your mind isn’t busy complaining, when you’re not procrastinating and are not envious of others, you can better focus on YOUR vision for YOUR life. You can see more clearly, make faster and better decisions for yourself.
We say that misery loves company and that a grateful heart is a magnet for miracles. What you focus on expands. Don’t forget about that.