How to Be Grateful and Why

Thanksgiving feels a bit different this year. Some of us are feeling extremely grateful. A good number of us are experiencing remorse around taking previous Thanksgivings for granted. Many of us are finding it hard to feel grateful at all.

As stated by Paul Pruyse, Dutch-American Clinical Psychologist, the word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, meaning “grace, graciousness, or gratefulness”. The derivatives of this Latin root “have to do with kindness, generousness, gifts, the beauty of giving and receiving, or getting something for nothing”.

What exactly is the point of gratitude? Why should we care? Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman, both researchers in the field of positive psychology found that grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, as well as lower levels of depression and stress. Furthermore expressions of gratitude and appreciation are vital to successful, thriving, long term relationships.

It is also interesting to note that gratitude does not appear to occur regularly as a response to receiving good fortune until middle childhood. It can be hard as a parent to do countless, thankless acts, yet it may provide some solace to know that it is normal. This reinforces the idea that gratitude could be taught as a fundamental skill in the home, or even in schools, to ensure everyone has access to it’s benefits.

One of my mentors Jinendra Swami shared his gratitude mantra with me. “I am grateful for ‘blank’ because it adds ‘blank’ to my life.” Using this sentence structure will strengthen your gratitude muscle and deepen your practice. How does one start a gratitude practice? I thought you would never ask.

How to Start a Gratitude Practice:

Decide on one of the following methods for your own daily Gratitude practice. You can switch them up after a couple weeks to refrain from getting bored. The most important thing to remember is that you will strengthen your gratitude if you never repeat the same sentiment twice. Each day think of something new. Lastly, your gratitude will deepen if you use the sentence structure “I am grateful for ‘blank’ because it adds ‘blank’ to my life.”

Gratitude Drive – Pick a distance, landmark or set a time to recite things that you are grateful for in your life.

Gratitude Walk – Pick a distance or a time that sounds good for you so you start reciting all of the things you are grateful for in your life.

Gratitude Trinket – Put a trinket in your wallet and every time you see the trinket tell yourself something that you are grateful for in your life.

Gratitude Journal – Keep a journal of the things you are grateful for in your life. Write down at least five things everyday.

Start a gratitude practice today, and watch your gratitude grow.



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