We tend to think that gratitude is a feeling that just happens to you–a reaction, like laughing at a joke. The problem with this idea is that it makes us victims of our own ability to adapt. Even if the circumstances we live in are extremely good, we may not have any awareness of it. We’re just focused on the next threat to our existence. This is a good strategy for staying alive, but it doesn’t work so well for feeling like life is worth living. We get used to how good things are, and before we know it we’re sneaking envious peeks over the fence to admire the neighbors’ grass.
Gratitude works like magic in the way it can transform the hum-drum world around you into a place of wonders: a place where miracles are happening all around you at every moment. You can see this transformation in even the most mundane and onerous aspects of modern life (including commercial air travel).
Not only does gratitude make you feel better about what you have, it can open the door to even more good things in your life.
For your health
Being grateful for your body and your health increases your body awareness. Your body may not look just the way you’d like; it’s current condition may reflect either poor choices on your part or circumstances beyond your control. But consider what an amazing mechanism your body is! Millions of years of evolutionary growth have gone into it, and before that, the very stuff you’re made of was a part of the stars in the heavens. Your body, whatever it’s condition, is a wonder to behold. Keeping these beautiful ideas in your heart and mind will do more for your happiness and health than you may realize.
In fact, studies show that people who are grateful are more likely to attend regular checkups, have fewer aches and pains, and suffer from less depression. What’s more, a default position of gratitude will help you enjoy your body more and deepen your happiness and sense of well-being, helping you feel better both mentally and physically. And who couldn’t use more of that?
So exercise! Enjoy affection and intimacy with someone you love. Get a massage from time to time to give your body a little treat.
For your relationships
A study published in Emotion in 2014 showed that saying thank you to someone you’ve just met increases the likelihood that the person you’ve thanked will establish an on-going connection with you. When the people around you feel appreciated, they tend to want to do more of the thing you thanked them for. As you continue thanking people and as gratitude becomes the default for your personal and working relationships, more and more people gather around you, offering up their best selves as you keep rewarding them with recognition and gratitude, often without even thinking twice about it.
For your soul
Are you feeling ground down all the time, defensive, victimized? Do you lash out at people who probably don’t deserve it, or feel like a slave to your own tempestuous moods? Consider cultivating more gratitude.
A 2014 University of Kentucky study showed that people who rated higher in gratitude were less likely to retaliate when given negative feedback, and showed greater empathy towards others over all.
With greater gratitude, you’ll have higher self-esteem because you’ll be able to recognize your own gifts, and so won’t feel the need to resent the achievements or accomplishments of others.
What more reasons do you need? Cultivate gratitude in your life. Treat yourself like someone you’re trying to take care of and work gratitude into your public and private life. Pray or meditate daily. See how many times you can say “thank you” to the people in your life in a given day.
Get curious about it: hat would happen if you tried it?
Choose the good life.
Tom Gunn is the blog editor and marketing director for The Good Life Massage. You can hire him to develop your brand and social media strategy by contacting him at TomGunn@gmail.com