Gratitude is a powerful emotion that greatly improves mental health and wellbeing. It is the feeling of appreciation for an experience. Research has shown that gratitude can significantly increase feelings of happiness and joy while improving life satisfaction. Behaviourally, It motivates individuals to act prosocially i.e., helping others. Gratitude repeatedly reminds us of what is positive in our lives.
As someone who has gone through a life-changing accident where I was very fortunate to survive, I have realised that gratitude is an emotion that has tremendous power. During a time where my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health was being tested, I found that being grateful for the simple things in life helped me get through tough times. Gratitude was essential in me building resilience and mental toughness.
Realising that the beauty in life is right before my eyes in every moment gave me strength in the face of adversity. I began paying attention to and being grateful for numerous little things. For example, the ability to breathe fresh air, hear the sound of birds chirping, see the clear blue sky, and experience love. Gratitude helped me shift from a flat and depressed state due to my circumstance to a state of presence and joy at all the positives in life.
Gratitude is about being thankful for each and every moment we have in life. Being thankful and appreciative primes our hearts and brains to experience more joy in these experiences in the future.
Gratitude comes hand in hand with mindfulness to improve wellbeing. By paying attention to the present moment with non-judgement, openness, and curiosity, we allow ourselves to start appreciating our lives in each moment. Rather than being caught up in the monkey mind that holds on to the past or worries about the future mindfulness anchors us to the glory in the present moment.
However, with all that we know about the benefits of gratitude it is still very difficult to cultivate. Often it takes a life-changing event or accident for us to start experiencing gratitude. Whether it is fostered in the workplace, in schools, or in the home, it can make a real difference to our overall wellbeing.
Instead of thinking about the things that are not going right or not going your way, start practising gratitude each day at the things that you are grateful for. You may notice a shift in the way you feel quicker than you think. In the morning when you wake, hold a thought that you are grateful for. Take advantage of the many gratitude journal apps you can use or keep a physical gratitude journal.
Remember that peace and joy can be fostered at every moment, it is up to us to find it.
Chen, Wu, C.-H., & Chang, J.-H. (2016). Gratitude and Athletes’ Life Satisfaction: The Moderating Role of Mindfulness. Journal of Happiness Studies, 18(4), 1147–1159. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-016-9764-7
Sawyer, K. B., Thoroughgood, C. N., Stillwell, E. E., Duffy, M. K., Scott, K. L., & Adair, E. A. (2021, April 12). Being Present and Thankful: A Multi-Study Investigation of Mindfulness, Gratitude, and Employee Helping Behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000903