Our generation is always in pursuit. We often find ourselves in a continuous chase after more money, success, status, possessions, better appearances and experiences. We have a carving and hunger to fulfill all our desires, wants and needs. It seems that we never have enough. It always has to be better, bigger, different and more impressive than what we already have. We focus more on what is lacking and what is yet to be gained or happen, instead of what we already have and the good things that have already happened to us. Who we already are and what we have is often underappreciated, not consciously recognize, taken for granted and even ignored. This vicious cycle ends up causing us to worry, become frustrated, unhappy and dissatisfied with our life.
Various psychological studies have been carried out in recent years to better understand life satisfaction, happiness and well-being. Gratitude has been linked to all three. “Gratitude is typically comprised of appreciation, thankfulness and a sense of wonder” (Emmons, & McCullough, 2003). Showing gratitude entails perceiving and recognizing positive outcomes in our lives. It is being conscious of, appreciating and savouring even the smallest positive elements that we encounter.
Being grateful for what you have in life can increase happiness, life satisfaction, positive emotions, pride,strength, contentment, optimism and reduces stress and depression (Lamberta, Finchama, Finchama, & Dean, 2009; Wood, Joseph, &Maltby, 2008; Fredrickson, 2004). Additionally, individuals who take a few moments every day to be grateful for different things in their life also appear to sleep better, have more energy, exercise more and generally be more physically healthy. Grateful individuals also show more generosity, empathy, offer more emotional support, help others to solve their problems and experience their relationship as stronger and more satisfactory. Gratitude encourages the cognitive focus on the benefits of the relationships and allows the individual to be more present, feel more loved and cherished by others. Gratitude builds up our psychological, cognitive, social and spiritual resources. Grateful people choose active coping, are more flexible in generating positive solutions and prefer to seek more social support rather than avoidant strategies. The utilization of all positive resources available to them increases well-being and the ability to cope with adversities (Fredrickson 1998, 2004; Wood et al., 2007).
Gratitude is quite a foreign concept in our lives. We will easily take a lot of time to complain, worry, nag, shop, work harder but taking time to be grateful for what we already have, that is just weird… Sure we say thank you if someone gives us a gift or helps us out but do we really stop and reflect on what that help really means to us and how grateful we are to have someone that we can count on and turn to? What life will be like without it? We walk by not noticing our environment or other people in our surroundings. We don’t really reflect on our talents, capacities, morals, values, personality traits, nor on the way that we were brought up and what an impact that had/has on our lives etc.
As mentioned above,there are many benefits to taking a few minutes every day and just listing 5 things that we are grateful for. It can be anything that you want, be it small to huge. For example, I am grateful for surviving that storm and being safe; I am grateful for having a loving and caring husband; I am grateful for having a great career that fulfils me; I am grateful for having had a good night sleep and feeling great this morning; I am grateful for reuniting with my old friend; I am grateful that there was no traffic jam this morning and I was able to come on time and calm to my meeting etc. If it does not come naturally you can try and ask yourself a few questions:
1.What happened today that I am grateful for?
2.Who are the people that are important to me and why am I grateful for them?
3. What am I grateful for about my job, possessions, home, city, nature, opportunities I got, culture, country, religion, education, life experiences and achievements?
4.What talents, skills, knowledge, virtues do I posses that I appreciate about myself? What makes me feel like I am fortunate?
5.What is important to me but I take for granted?
6.Have I overcome challenges/ adversities? How? What have I learned from it about myself and others that I am grateful for?
Try to find a time in the day to reflect on your life. Some people like to write the 5 things that they are grateful for in a journal so they can look back on what they wrote. It does not have to be written just as long as the reflection is made…
Fredrickson, B. L. (1998). What good are positive emotions? Review of General Psychology, 2, 247–270.
Fredrickson, B. L. (2004). Gratitude, like other positive emotions, broadens and builds. In Emmons, R. A. & McCulloughm, M. E. (Eds.), The Psychology of Gratitude (pp. 145–166).New York: Oxford University Press.
Wood, A. M., Joseph, S., &Linley, P. A. (2007). Gratitude: The parent of all virtues. The Psychologist, 20, 18–21.
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: An experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well–being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 377–389.
Lamberta, N. M., Finchama, F. D., Finchama, T. F., & Dean, L. R. (2009). More gratitude, less materialism: The mediating role of life satisfaction. Journal of Positive Psychology, 4,1, 32–42.
Wood, A, M., Joseph, S., & Linley, P. A.(2007).Coping styles as a psychological resource of grateful people. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 26, 9, 1076–1093.
Wood, A, M., Joseph, S., &Maltby, J. (2008). Gratitude uniquely predicts satisfaction with life: Incremental validity above the domains and facets of the five factor model. Personality and Individual Differences, 45, 49–54.