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Thanks is the most common word we normally use as a way to express gratitude.
How often do you take a moment and thank someone mindfully? How often do we mindfully express gratitude to someone?
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all my readers. I am thankful for the supports you have shown on my social media accounts and this blog.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is about being thankful for the people, situations, tangible or intangible things we have in our life. It is an act of recognising that things do not need to have a monetary value to be valuable for us.
With gratitude, we acknowledge the goodness in our lives and the source of that goodness often lies outside of us. It is a way to appreciate what we have, instead of always reaching for something new with the hope to feel happier.
We will never feel satisfied even if all our material and physical goals have been met.
Many of us have a difficult life and we often wish we could have a baby sitter to watch over the kids, have a car to reach work early or we wish for a bigger house. These are common thoughts that we have every day.
In the middle of these thoughts and the number of things we have to do daily, we often forget the good things we have in our life.
Someone may have told us kind words or show us appreciations at work but we do not acknowledge it. Our mind does not absorb these good words as it should. On the contrary, if someone was not nice to us or we missed the train, we tend to focus on those bad occurrences.
As the author, Jay Shetty wrote in his book Think like a Monk,"when we start our day with gratitude, we opened ourselves to opportunities and not obstacles." Jay said with gratitude, we find fresh ways to grow instead of succumbing to negative thoughts that limit our options.
It is hard to believe how such a "small" act of being thankful can affect our mind and happiness positively. A 2009 research have shown that gratitude is strongly associated with positive effects and is consistently linked with greater happiness.
So if gratitude can make us happy, why can't we practice it on a more regular basis and in a more mindful way?
Benefits of practising Gratitude
In a 2016 study, gratitude has found to have social, physical and psychological benefits. It has been linked to a stronger immune system, reduced anxiety, depression and blood pressure with an increase in the level of happiness.
It also boosts our self-esteem, has a greater optimism and helps us to sleep better.
Research has shown that only after 10 weeks of practising gratitude by writing, people feel more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They exercise more and had fewer visits to physicians.
When we start to appreciate the good things in life and have a positive mindset; we allow people to perceive us as friendlier and helpful person which in turn, they want to help us.
It helps us to build a strong relationship. We are more kind and considerate. I noticed a lot of positive changes in my attitude and in the way I communicate with others.
I don't think we can fill our heart with gratitude and anger at the same time.
When we express gratitude in a relationship, it helps the partner to feel more positive towards the other person. We feel more comfortable discussing concerns about the relationship and expressing our emotions.
Tip: Whenever you feel someone has done something amazing for you, take a moment and tell them how grateful you are for the effort they have put to make your day better. Be as descriptive as you can. For instance, we can say - Thank you for taking the time out to make dinner for us even though you had a busy schedule. I appreciate the efforts you are making to keep us healthy.
Expressing gratitude should not only be done with romantic partners but with everyone. Even at the workplace, a thank you from the manager has also been linked with better employees' motivation to work harder.
Next time you see the cleaning personnel or the mail person at your workplace, thank them. They also make a difference in your life.
Sending a thankful note makes the other person happy.
The more time I spend reading about gratitude, the more I feel how blessed I am to have the life I have. I come from a medium class working family where my dad had to retire from his work at the factory at a very early age due to a workplace injury. We are a family of five and I was the youngest among my two sisters.
At that time, I believed I cannot be happy because we had less money. People who have money, a car or a big house can be happy. Yes! that was me and my mindset during my early teens.
My sisters and I complained about how our lives were not similar to others. We compared our lives to people around us. But as I grew up, I understood we don't need material things to be happy.
Car, house or money are essential things but are not everything. Ever since I started to acknowledge and recognise how blessed I am, I cannot be grateful enough to my parents. At the age of 25, I got married to a wonderful person and we came to Australia.
Today I am a double degree holder, married to an amazing person and living a happy life. Every day I feel so grateful for everything I have in my life and for things I had in my life in Mauritius.
The moral of this story is to acknowledge everything people do for you and to be grateful for it. You can have a harsh childhood or a childhood you thought was not good enough but every obstacle crafted to make you the person you are today. You are the one to decide what to extract and learn from difficult situations. Life is not supposed to be easy.
If you nurture negative emotions due to past events, you will carry the heavyweight of these emotions every day in your life. It will influence how you perceive life and what you do to the good and bad experiences in your life.
Negative emotions are not healthy for our wellbeing, whereas gratitude is the predictors of wellbeing.
How can you cultivate Gratitude?
Write a thank-you note
Write a thank-you note to people who made a difference in your life. If you can deliver it personally, read the note to the person.
Otherwise, send a thank message if that you prefer. Although I would strongly advise you to write the note, I want to make this action for you as easy as possible.
Be sincere in your message.
If you thank 1 person each month, you will end up thanking 12 people in a year.
2. Thanks someone mentally
We can thank people mentally. I often remember and thank people when I pray. Even if you are not a religious person, you can take a moment either before you got to bed or when you wake up in the morning, to thank people who have made your day better.
3. Keep a gratitude Journal
Keeping a journal can be a good way to practice gratitude. I highly advise you to write it down instead of doing it mentally. Do it regularly and honour it as a commitment.
You can start by writing 5 things for which you feel grateful. It can be anything. The aim of this exercise is to feel the emotions, the good events, people and things. Enjoy the exercise and take time to feel the good emotions that come with it.
Be as specific as you can. For instance, I am grateful for my friend who brought soup on Monday when I was sick. Instead of I am grateful for my friend.
You can elaborate as much as you want and focus more on people rather than on thing when expressing your gratitude.
Meditation can be another good way to practice gratitude.
Start by sitting in a comfortable position and a quiet environment. You can have calming music playing in the background. Close your eyes and lower your gaze.
It is okay in the beginning if you are having difficulty to focus. Do not fight with your thoughts. Let them flow. They are clouds that will go away after some time.
Try to notice what you can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste.
5 mins of sitting silently and cultivating gratitude can be so rewarding especially when you are having a bad day.
5. Count your blessing
We often feel grateful because we can go to university or because we got married. However, being grateful for the little things in our life such as eating a meal to eat or having clean water for a shower can be difficult.
The awareness that we have a meal to eat and we can eliminate our hunger is a way to count our blessing. We enjoy similar blessing every day.
Gratitude is an expansion of positivity, love and joy.
Success without gratitude is the biggest failure of all - Tony Robbins