By Stella Vasileiadou,
Studies have shown that people who value what they have, tend to be happier as compared with those who do not.
Admit it. How often do you feel like you are missing something? Or that your life is not the way you wanted it to be? I am sure that such thoughts are familiar to you, either speaking from personal experience or from what you have heard from others. But, let us take a step back and think about it; does the “perfect life” really exist? Is it something realistic and achievable?
Oh, do not get me wrong. Of course, this does not mean that we have to compromise and stop looking or aiming for something better, but that may be, it is high time we realized and appreciated everything we have.
Look at it this way; nothing is for certain. For instance, most of us have a warm bed to sleep on, food, water, friends, and family, while others would give anything to be in our shoes. Instead of realizing how lucky we are, we end up complaining about what we do not have and how unfair life has been to us.
What is gratitude?
The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, gratefulness, or graciousness (always keeping in mind the context in general). And it is surprising how gratitude somehow includes all of these meanings. The term gratitude could be defined as “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether it is something material (tangible) or not”.
In other words, it means that with gratitude, people realize and are more aware of the positive aspects of their lives.
How to grow your thankfulness for your life?
So, here are some ways to add “gratitude” to your daily routine and improve your overall well-being:
What about a thank-you note? Did you know that you can make yourself happier by boosting your mood, and strengthening your bonds with other people simply by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your feelings about them and more specifically, how thankful you are for having them in your life? You could send it to them or read it in front of them if possible. Make this a habit of yours, by doing it on a monthly basis or you could even as well write at least one such letter per month to yourself.
Thank someone without them knowing it. Too busy and not enough time to write? Believe me, it may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally say “thank you” to that individual. More or less, the feeling is the same.
Dear (gratitude) diary… It is a very common practice among people nowadays and seems to have improved their mental health quite enough. Write down or why not share thoughts with a loved one about the gifts you’ve received each day.
P.S: By “gifts” we do not mean presents but the happy moments of the day.
How many exactly are your blessings? All you have to do is choose a time every week in a quiet place and concentrate in order to write down about your blessings — thinking how lucky you are for having something specific or what you are grateful for. Some people claim that it helps them to pick a number —usually two to five things— that they will have to identify each week, like a task you have to complete. As you write, try to be as specific as possible and try to bring into your mind the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
Pray. Religious people can also use the magic power of prayer to feel more grateful for what they have.
Meditation could work, too. Mindfulness meditation means being concentrated on the present moment without fear of getting judged or criticized. Try to focus on what you are really thankful for (i.e. a good movie you watched, your family, a nice song you heard on the radio, etc.).
Appreciating what is valuable and what means a lot to us is the key to gratefulness and to a happier and better life. No one said it is an easy process: it does take time and requires staying focused and dedicated to your goal, but the result will be worth it.
- Ackerman, C.E., What is Gratitude and Why Is It So Important?, PositivePsychology, Available here
- Brown, J. & Wong, J., How Gratitude Changes You and Your Brain, Greater Good Magazine, Available here
- Harvard Health Publishing, Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier, Available here