In this fast paced and stressful lives of ours, we often forget to be thankful for the things we have. We tend to take these things for granted. Gratitude is from a Latin word gratus. It is a feeling of appreciation felt by and/ or similar positive response shown by the recipient of kindness, gifts, helps, favors, or other types of generosity, towards the giver of such gifts.
The thing is, that we aren’t hardwired to be grateful. And like any other skill, gratitude needs practice. It takes only 8 weeks of gratitude practice for people to start showing changed brain patterns that lead to greater empathy and happiness. We usually show gratitude only when we are benefitted from someone’s actions.
Gratitude helps us to differentiate the good from the bad. It helps us realize what we have. In all, it strengthens our relationships, reduces stress, and makes us even more happier. Some studies even show that feeling grateful makes people less likely to turn aggressive when provoked.
Ways to practice gratitude:
Gratitude journal/ Jar: It is as simple as noting down one or two things daily, which you are grateful for. You can note it down in a fancy notebook or even a simple one, or maybe makes notes and put them in a glass jar. The idea is to think back on the past few days and remember things we are extremely grateful for. This helps us to change our perception to various situations by adjusting what we focus on. Also, if you are unable to do it everyday, start by doing it once a week or maybe every alternate day, any which way suits you. You can make it fun by taking pictures of things you are grateful for and pasting them in.
Compliment: Give at least one compliment to someone. Or maybe to yourself. Tell someone you love them and how much you appreciate them. Practice self love.
Gratitude walk in Nature: Interact with nature. Take a walk in your nearby park or go trekking or sky diving. Notice the natural beauty around you and compliment it. Be aware of the nature, the colour of the trees & leaves, the various flowers you see, the sounds of birds and such .
Act of kindness: Do one act of kindness everyday. Feeding the stray dog, or helping an old man to cross the road. Or even work for a social cause. When you give something, you automatically feel grateful.
Quality time: Spend quality time with your friends, family, spouse, kids, or even pets.
Positivity: Surround yourself with positivity. Cut out negative people, negative media from your lives. Even if you are in a negative situation, try to focus on the good that it will bring, what you will learn from it.
Complaint less: Try and be satisfied and happy with what you have. Stop running after everything. If your friend has a particular thing doesn’t mean you should also. Learn to differentiate between ‘want’ and ‘need’. Enjoy the little things.
Thankfulness: Thank others. Not for something big they Did, but for the small things people around do for us, that we often forget to notice or appreciate. Say thank you when your colleague offers you a glass of water, or when some unknown person helps you at the store.
Catching up: Spend some quality time with family and friends. With ourbusy schedules, we hardly get any time to catchup with our loved ones. Make an conscious effort to meet your parents, relatives and friends once a month or every 3 months, whatever suits. The number of times you meet is not important. Meeting once in 6 months and spending quality loved time with them is what matters. When you give love and happiness, it will automatically come back to you .
Meditation: Gratitude mediation is a little different from normal meditation. During normal meditation we focus on our breath, keep our mind clear and focus on a particular thing. Gratitude meditation is visualizing things in our life that we are grateful for. Show gratitude for things we take for granted like having a house to live in, three meals a day, physical ability and such. There can be hundreds of reasons to meditate. Take stock of such things that you are grateful for and you will feel much better afterward.
As I read somewhere “ Developing an attitude of gratitude isn’t just a pop psychology trend. It has been linked to an overall better quality of life.”In this overly negative world, we all could use a little more TLC. Feeling gratitude is one of the easiest ways to feel inner peace. What happens around us is not in our control, but reacting to it is. People who practice gratitude are more easy going, happier and secure.
There are numerous ways of practicing gratitude. Choose what works best for you. And after sometime if you feel that it has lost its freshness or you are bored of that particular way, make a change in how, when and how often you express yourself.