Gratitude is appreciated in any language and culture. Gratitude benefits everyone - the giver and the receiver. Studies show that those who regularly practice gratitude have dozens of mental and physical benefits, including. . .
- Strengthened alertness
- Heightened optimism
- Increased happiness
- Reduction in anger responses
- Increased endorphin, serotonin, and dopamine levels
- More relaxed heart
- Lengthened and more refreshing sleep
- Augmented ability to cope with pain and stress
- Strengthened immune system
- Sense of connectedness to others
Because gratitude has so many positive effects on one’s well-being, how can we grow in an attitude of gratefulness no matter where we are or the situation we are facing?
- Appreciation: Recognizing good characteristics and understanding. In order to recognize, we need to see and to understand. We need to process. This includes thinking rightly about a situation and noticing details. We simply can’t appreciate if we are unaware, unmindful, forgetful, or self-focused. One way to increase appreciation is to slow down to notice. Add thoughtfulness to your day. Look for small things that bring a smile and give thanks.
- Goodwill: An inner cooperative attitude and friendly feelings. In order to understand the meaning of goodwill, it’s helpful to look at its opposite. If we don’t have an attitude that’s full of goodwill, we may be demanding, hold grudges, or feel entitled, jealous, judgmental, sarcastic, grumpy, and bitter. Ouch! These attitudes short circuit feelings of gratitude and thankfulness. Putting aside these attitudes and growing in goodwill affects our outer display of thankfulness.
- Practice: Gratefulness stems from our noticing and appreciating, from an inner desire to bless and to be generous. Here are a few ways to practice gratitude:
- Write a thank-you note.
- Tell someone one thing you appreciate about them.
- Journal 5 things a day that you are thankful for.
- Think of something you like about yourself.
- Give time to a meaningful cause.
Thankful words and actions spring out of appreciative thoughts and a heart full of goodwill and benefit the one who practices them by increasing well-being. Backed by a benevolent heart and an appreciative mind, gratitude is beneficial inside and out.
What is something you’re thankful for today? How will you express your gratitude?
*This blog has been adapted from the original that was written and posted for See Beyond on November 6, 2018. Click here for the original blog.
About the Author: After living in Morocco with her family for 9 years, Alicia and her family now reside in a Chicago suburb, where she is working on her MA in Counseling. Alicia loves time with her grown kids, hearing people's varied stories, collecting scarves, and writing blogs for See Beyond (an IDEAS Associate's business). Click here to enjoy other blogs by Alicia.