Gratitude is a way of being thankful every day about what we have in our life, about showing appreciation towards certain things, people, music, tv shows, movies, books, it can be whatever that brings you joy in your life.
If you think about it, every religion practices gratitude, before having a meal, being thankful to god, Although I am not talking about being grateful in a religious manner. You can direct your gratitude towards anything.
Let's take an example of what is happening in our world right now, we are undergoing a global crisis together, everybody in the world has literally been dealt with the same hand.
We have had to sacrifice our usual way of life, like jobs, socializing, going to the movies, traveling, etc.
Now the question is, do you let that overwhelm yourself and drown in the bottomless pit of self-pity or do you take control of the environment before it controls you.
All we have to do is, Look around, people are suffering from hunger, poverty, Unfortunately, many people have lost their loved ones to this disease. So my point is that no one is alone in this.
Hence instead of dwelling in the negative how about, we start looking inwards with respect to what we have in our lives.
We take so many things for granted and we don't realize it until it's taken away. Like the food in our fridge, the time we spend with our family, having a fast internet connection, air conditioning, etc.
We spend so much of our time thinking about what we don't have rather than noticing the things we do have. Which many people around the world don't right now.
So what gratitude does is, it lets you be more mindful about the little things in our life which we think may always be there and take it for granted and allows you to be thankful for it.
it could be anything, spending time with your family, children, having enough finances to pay for things. it can be anything in your life which you need to pinpoint for yourself.
Effects of Gratitude on Stress
When we are grateful, we can't be angry, jealous, or wallow in self-pity. or be fearful of certain things in our life. These emotions don't work with each other, in fact in they work the opposite way.
Hence when you are always finding those little things in your life to be grateful for, it lessens the impact of your stress mentally.
Basically you learn to take it in a good way. and your bar for getting overwhelmed by stress goes way higher than before. which results in healthier relationships with people and improved mental and physical health.
Effects of Gratitude on Depression
A person who lives his life mindfully and is grateful for the things he has in his life is less likely to suffer from chronic depression compared to someone who always can find things to complain or blame about, whether its the government, or their colleagues at work, etc.
We have to understand, being grateful doesn't mean being positive all the time, No, these are two different things.
When you express gratitude, it turns into an emotion, a feeling, when you go through your mind looking for those things, moments, people that make you happy. it automatically releases serotonin, which is the feel-good hormone affecting our mood.
There is always something to be grateful about
Its easier said than done right? What about the people who have deadly diseases like cancer, or tumor. yes, I agree it's hard to be grateful during stressful times and it would be easier for me to say that since I am not the one going through it.
What I would try to do be grateful for is the support from people who are close to me, parents, partners, friends whoever, or being able to pay for the treatment I am getting. It depends on the person as well.
if someone is known to be a pessimist he could always find things to complain about, compared to a person who is mindful and who takes things as it appears.
Gratitude doesn't work without genuine feelings
We have to understand that you cant express gratitude because you saw someone talk about it without understanding the physiology behind it.
If you are grateful for something, it needs to be authentic, which means it needs to be something that actually makes you happy and not a pseudo thing you made up.
How should I start?
You can start off by taking a moment every day and think about that one thing that you are grateful for in your day and if it makes a difference.
Keep in mind consistency is key, just like if you start to go to the gym, your muscles don't grow in a day right?. Hence you need to keep at it every single day, till it becomes a habit in your brain.
Stop and observe your reaction to every little thing that doesn't go your way. Do you get angry and frustrated quickly? Do those negative thoughts come flooding in your head every time you face an unpleasant situation?
It's because our brains have become wired in a certain way, that it becomes a habit without us noticing.
So whatever behavioral change we need to do, We have to rewire our brains by being consistent and disciplined. it won't happen overnight. Life is a constant growth. it's upon us to keep improving the negative parts in our behavior by learning from it.