It’s funny how we tend to only be grateful for things when we get them. We think we will be happy or at least happier once we receive the things that we want in life and only then the gratefulness and appreciation will follow. This is a natural tendency we have but it doesn’t have to be that way.
In positive psychology research, gratitude is linked strongly with greater happiness. Being grateful and appreciative in the here and now leads to more positive feelings, which in turn leads to better health, stronger relationships and an ability to deal better with any hardship presented in our lives.
So how do we get into the habit of being more appreciative? A lot of people (for example) want more money in their lives and yes, you may be happier once you get more money although that isn’t always necessarily the case, but I digress. It’s hard to feel grateful in the here and now when you’re struggling to pay the bills or wanting to go on holiday but not being able to afford it. We want the freedom that money will give us and we don’t feel like we can have that freedom until we get that cash.
The negativity surrounding the idea of lack in our lives make us more miserable than we think. Wouldn’t it be better to live a life of abundance even if we don’t yet have what will make us ‘happy’? Wouldn’t it be better energy spent acknowledging the things that we do have right now?
It’s really very simple. Just sit down and think of ten things that you are grateful for in your life. It could be the roof over your head, the food in your fridge, the great friends and family you have, the hot shower you get to have every morning…..the list can really be endless and whatever you have on this list, appreciate the crap out of them! These are things we do and have everyday yet we take them for granted and are so overlooked.
Recognising what we have and feeling positive about them will reap numerous benefits but it’s something that we need to make a habit of. You may have heard of making a Gratitude List which is a great way of really getting you to think and notice what you’re truly grateful for. Each night, make a habit of listing everything you’ve been grateful for that day. Every morning, wake up and appreciate that warm bed and the hot shower you get to take. It really is a mind shift and one that will really make a huge difference in your daily outlook. You’ll feel brighter and more optimistic which will attract better things into your life.
People are important. The relationships we have within our own networks, whether at home with our families, our friends, colleagues or communities, play a huge role in our lives. The bonds we form with others bears a massive impact on our happiness and one way of strengthening these is to express gratitude and appreciation.
We are all conditioned to say ‘thank you’ from a young age which is culturally a positive thing. But does this become an automation rather than an emotional appreciation? Do we really express true, deep gratitude towards someone who has done something kind for us or is it a conditioned thanks void of feeling? This isn’t to say we always do this but we should really step back and think about how the other person will feel receiving the gratitude.
Christopher Peterson, a psychologist who worked extensively with positive psychology used the term ‘other people matter’. We tend to talk about positivity in terms of ourselves and how to make ourselves happier (which is great) but actually our quality of relationships with others makes a massive impact on our happiness. And one of the best ways to do this is to express appreciation. Not only does it make you feel good, it obviously makes the other person feel good too. It’s powerful stuff.
There are good ways of expressing gratitude and there are even better ways. When you are truly grateful towards another person because they did something nice for you, you make the appreciation about them. We can have a tendency to say ‘thank you’ and say how much it means to us but we should also maybe add how we notice they do this a lot and what a beautiful trait it is. This becomes more about them and highlights the fact that they are a wonderful person and you acknowledge this.
And studies have shown that being more grateful allows you to cope better with everyday stress and even boosts your immune system so even more reasons to show a bit of appreciation!
So don’t buy into the idea that not having the things you want right now in your life is a reason to not notice what you do have. It will make you feel more abundant which is a feeling that really most of us crave to have. Make sure you really appreciate the people in your life not just to make yourself feel better but to benefit the other person – make it about them. Better relationships lead to a more positive and happier life. Focusing on the abundance rather than the lack is all a state of mind so why not choose to make that a more positive and happy one? 🙂