Gratitude is an emotion where an individual expresses gratefulness or appreciation for what they have in life. It encourages people to feel more positive, deal with adversity and reminds us of what is truly important in our lives whether that be friends, family or even our health.
I’m writing this blog whilst the COVID 19 statistics rise (again!) and the outlook for Christmas and the New Year is looking a little grim (again!). Yes it’s easy to start and complain about the possibility of further restrictions and get caught up in the media reports, but gratitude can help us hit our refresh buttons and give us a new perspective.
My childhood taught me to realise how grateful I actually am. I grew up with a mum working all the hours she could just to put food on the table. I rarely saw her and often spent Christmas Day with my sister, or on my own. We didn’t get piles of presents or the latest clothes/toys on the TV because she simply didn’t have the money. To avoid or hide the disappointment of not getting something I really wanted I would go fishing. I knew that on Christmas Day the lake would be completely mine to fish. This may seem a little sad but to me it was an adventure and something I was extremely grateful for.
Sometimes taking a step back and looking at what you have is just what you need. If I’d sat at home on Christmas Day and complained about what I didn’t have, I would never have got the opportunity to fish a lake with nobody else around. I firmly believe this gratitude shaped the person I’ve become today.
Why Gratitude matters:
1. It’s key to being happy. Gratitude is an emotion that makes us feel happier. If we aren’t grateful, then no matter how much we have we will never be happy. There will always be the feeling of wanting something else or something more. Identifying the good things in our lives helps us to feel more more content and satisfied with everything around us.
2. It shifts perspective and changes emotions. Counting positives instead of negatives helps to shift your thought pattern. Practising gratitude can helps us to overcome the black and white thinking that worrying or difficult times can bring. It can help break up the negative thinking we can sometimes suffer from and flip it to more positive thoughts.
3. Builds resilience. During difficult times, gratitude can boost our mental health by making us aware of the good in our lives and can help us discover how to find the silver lining when things seem very bleak.
4. It improves relationships. Showing someone gratitude shows an appreciation of who they are and what they mean to you. It connects people and shows others that we don’t take them or the things they do for us for granted.
5. Linked to physical health. Research has linked gratitude to better overall health including more energy and better sleep patterns. Grateful people tend to look after their physical and mental health more than others.
Take a moment during the Christmas festivities to look around and mentally make a note of what you’re grateful for. I think you will be surprised to find it’s probably the very simple things.
Gratitude reminds you of what is actually important.
Comparison with others will just make you feel rubbish.
The more you sit and complain, the more opportunities you miss.
Accept that everybody is different and be grateful for that.
Things that are valuable aren’t things.
What are you waiting for? Take the leap of faith. Make the Change. Not tomorrow. Not next week, but NOW.