One of the easiest ways to feel happy is to grateful for what we have. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives. When we practice gratitude in our lives, we acknowledge the good things in our life. In doing that we attract more goodness in our lives. We can start with things we take for granted, our ability to see, breathe, hear, taste, walk, eat, have friends, etc. If we look closely there are so many gifts we need to be grateful for – a friend to talk to, food on the plate, reading a good book, enjoying a sunrise or sunset, etc.
There are many mental health benefits of gratitude. Research in positive psychology informs us that gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness. People who practice gratitude are happier, feel positive emotions and improve their health. In a Wharton school study at University of Pennsylvania reported that managers who remember to say ‘thank-you’ to people who work for them may find those employees feel more motivated to work harder.
Ways to cultivate gratitude:
Keep a gratitude Journal – Make a habit of writing down things you are grateful for. Give thanks for small things. We are just like magnets, if we think and acknowledge the good things in our lives, we attract them.
Meditate – Mindfulness meditation means focusing on the present. Our past is a cancelled check future is but a promissory note, the present is what we have here and now and it is a gift that is why it is called present.
Be more aware – Become more aware of the things that you need to be grateful for. My grandfather use to say if you become too arrogant, take a trip to a hospital and you will realize you have so much to be grateful for.
Serve others – Be of service to others who need it. Spend volunteering your time at least two hours a month for those who are in need. Maybe you cook once a month and distribute that food, or donate clothes or help out in teaching someone who cannot go to school.
Having said this it may not be easy to practice gratitude all the time. But set an alarm in your phone once a day and call that gratitude alarm. When it triggers off, take a break from whatever you are doing – and practice saying thanks for all that you have. It will not take more than a few minutes of your time but you will feel so much better once you do that. When you start to practice gratitude, you see everything in a different light. And as Meister Eckhart so eloquently stated: “If the only prayer you ever say in your whole life is ‘Thank you,’ that will suffice.”