“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero
Gratitude helps us to see how much we have to be thankful for in our lives. It takes us away from looking at our lives as lacking and helps us to see that there is an abundance of things that we can be happy to have in our lives.
We live in a society where we have the basics we need to survive; a roof over our heads, food, running water and relative safety. We should be thankful for these things because there is a huge number of people in the world who lack these things.
Aside from these basics there is plenty else we can be grateful for. Relationships with people are something to be very grateful for. The people in my life make my life fantastic and I have plenty of different people that in one way or another brighten up my existence.
Why Practice Gratitude?
There is plenty of research (links below) that has proven that being grateful can help with our state of wellbeing. There is even evidence to suggest that practicing gratitude can increase our base level of happiness, which allows us to be generally happier. You may have noticed that the ecstasy that you can experience with certain big events, like a promotion or getting married can quickly wear off and after a while your happiness level returns to where it started, well, gratitude helps you increase your resting happiness level.
Gratitude also helps us to reduce negative feelings, it’s pretty difficult to feel emotions like resentment when you are in a state of gratitude. Being thankful helps to see that there is plenty of good in our lives no matter how small and insignificant these things may appear.
How to Practice Gratitude
This is really one of the easiest things to do and takes such a short time but can really help to increase our base levels of happiness, particularly if we can be grateful for the small things as well as the bigger things in life.
Each day, either when you wake up or before you go to sleep (well actually the time doesn’t really matter) write down three to ten things that you can be thankful for. My list today: Mondays off work, a comfortable bed, good coffee and free health service in the UK. I have to say that since starting this in June I feel much more joy with life.
The trick is to be grateful for the mundane and unspectacular as well as for the amazing moments we can experience.
Look around you, there is so much we can be grateful for in this wonderful world, get out there and show your gratitude!
According to some digging, Robert A Emmons PhD is one of the worlds top experts on how gratitude can help us. Read about his findings here.