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An Attitude of Gratitude

27 Apr An Attitude of Gratitude

Article by Patti SayrePsychotherapist, L.C.S.W (Patti is a friend of Montclare’s and has joined us to present many parenting workshops over the years. Sign up for her newsletter!)

What is Gratitude? Gratitude is more than feeling thankful for something. It is more like a deeper appreciation for someone or something, which produces longer lasting positivity. Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components. First, it is an affirmation. We affirm that there are good things in the world:  benefits or gifts that we receive. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect. There are stresses and burdens, but when we look at life as a whole we can acknowledge goodness. Second is recognizing that the sources of goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people gave us gifts, both big and small. If you are of a spiritual mindset, you may think that a “higher power” is responsible. We do acknowledge the role that we play in our accomplishments and in life, but we also widen our range of attribution to acknowledge that others have assisted along the way.

Gratitude is seen as a relationship-strengthening emotion as it requires us to see how we have been supported and affirmed by other people. Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always searching for something new in the hopes that it will make them happier. Gratitude helps people to focus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state of feeling grateful grows stronger with practice.

Why Practice Gratitude?

  • Do you want more in your life?
  • More Happiness? Better Health? Stronger Relationships?
  • People who practice gratitude experience a wide range of benefits.

 

Psychological

  •  Higher levels of positive emotions
  •  More joy and pleasure
  •  More alive and alert

 

Physical

  • Sleep longer and feel more rested
  • Exercise more and take better care of themselves
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Stronger immune systems
  • Less physical complaints

 

Social

  • Feel less lonely and isolated
  • More outgoing
  • More Forgiving
  • More Helpful, generous and compassionate

 

Ways to Become More Grateful

  • Keep a gratitude journal:  Write down the gifts, benefits and good things that you enjoy. Setting aside time each day to write down moments of gratitude will help you to interweave a theme of gratefulness into your life.
  • Count your blessings:  Think of 3-5 things each day for which you are grateful.
  • Write a thank you note:  Express your appreciation to someone who has been important to you.
  • Come to your senses:  Through the use of our sense of smell, touch, hearing, taste, and sight, we become aware of the miracle of being human and the gift of life.
  • Make a vow to practice gratitude:  Research shows that making an oath to perform an action, actually increases the likelihood that it will be executed. A simple statement such as “I vow to count my blessings” can be posted on your bathroom mirror where you will see it each morning.
  • Think outside the box:  Look for reasons to feel grateful. You will find them.
  • Go through the motions:  Grateful motions are things like smiling, saying thank you, and writing notes.
  • Remember the bad:  Remembering difficulties can remind you of how far you have come and this contrast is fertile ground for feeling grateful.
  • Try not to compare yourself to others:  Harness your mental energy into focusing on how magnificent you are!

 

ARE YOU A GRATEFUL PERSON?

THANKFUL FOR THE GOOD THINGS, BOTH BIG AND SMALL IN YOUR LIFE?