Radical Gratitude: Give Thanks in All Circumstances
Giving thanks can make you happier.
The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. With gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives. In the process, we usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies within ourselves more than outside ourselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
Ways to cultivate gratitude
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. I know I get like this sometimes. I forget that buying the new Patagonia jacket isn’t really want I’m needing in this moment. Gratitude helps us refocus on what we have instead of what we lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice. Try it this holiday season as an exercise. You may be surprised at what you discover for yourself.
Here are some ways to cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.
Write a thank-you note. You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationships by writing a thank-you letter expressing your appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself, even. I like to hand make my cards. It’s creative, more fun and more personable. But don’t let this stop you from actually doing it.
Thank someone mentally. No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual. Even if you don’t tell them in person. If you can, do it. Use the voice text so they can hear your voice instead of an actual text.
Keep a gratitude journal. Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day. I love the small journals you can find at your local bookstore. Write GRATITUDE on the front and keep it somewhere you know you will see it everyday.
Count your blessings. Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you. I like to pick 3 things when I wake up and 3 things when I go to bed. Start and End your day with Gratitude. It’s a frequency and it feels good!
Pray. People who are spiritual can use prayer to cultivate gratitude. This is changing your mental state into BEING and not DOING. Recognizing that you are co-creating your Life with this Universal Energetic Force of Nature.
Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Although she can often focus on a word or phrase (such as “peace”), it is also possible to focus on what you’re grateful for (the warmth of the sun, a pleasant sound, etc.). Start a minute a day then go up from there. Make it impossible to fail!
Happy beginning of Thanksgiving Week!
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” –William Faulkner