It's no accident that all of the major world religions employ some form of gratitude in their rituals. It's simply because it makes our daily life better, even if you're not religious nor spiritual.
Gratitude is the feeling of being thankful and showing appreciation for what is in our lives. And thankfulness and appreciation are a pathway to a life of happiness and well-being. When you pause and recognize all of the wonderful things in your life, you feel happier. Appreciation keeps us focused on what is already good in our lives, and opens up the doorway to more goodness to flow into our lives. Gratitude also equips us to handle setbacks and failures in a more resilient way. Science is producing mounting research that our lives are much better when we practice gratitude.
And indeed, gratitude does make your life better in the following ways...
1. You Feel More Satisfied
Not completely happy with your life? Gratitude is a lasting feeling that sustains you longer than other fleeting sensations. Grateful people are more satisfied with their lives because they focus more on what they do appreciate in their life. When you practice gratitude, you take time to appreciate the things that you're thankful for in your life. And this means that you won't be longing as much for what's missing in your life, because you won't pay as much attention to it.
2. You Motivate Others
When you say "thank you" to someone, they feel that you appreciate what you did for them, even if just a little bit. Saying "thank you" is therefore a powerful motivator for others to keep helping you again, because you are rewarding them with your appreciation. Have you ever noticed how it feels when someone doesn't appreciate what you did for them? It makes you not want to help them again in the future because they don't appreciate it. Small thank you's go a long way, whether it's a simple text message or a thoughtful email, you can never show someone enough gratitude.
3. You're Happier
Grateful people are happier. They're more in tune with what's going well in their lives and focus more on the positive. When you actually count your blessings (I'm grateful for today's beautiful weather, for my new shoes, for my close friends, etc) it puts you in a positive and uplifting mood. It's very enjoyable to recognize the things that you might have been taking for granted, and to feel joy for having them in your life.
4. You're More Resilient
Throughout your life you'll experience many setbacks and failures. So having good coping skills is vital for us to have a thriving and successful life. When life knocks you down yet you still practice gratitude, you can humbly appreciate the temporary defeat as a learning lesson. When you're faced with challenges, you can thank God or the Universe for giving you an opportunity to practice your patience and strength. When you're grateful you focus more on the opportunities that failures give you, rather than its negative consequences.
5. You Deepen Your Social Ties
Gratitude has the power to deepen your social bonds and connections with others. When you live in a state of gratitude, you have better relationships with your peers. It also enhances your ability to form and nurture relationships, as your friends and family members experience the positive vibes of your appreciation for them and for life. Your energy changes when you're grateful, and you go from being a "downer" to being a positive person. And this is very attractive to everyone else around and strengthens your relationships.
6. You Have Better Health
Gratitude has been linked to better physical health, as well as better sleep and reduced stress levels. You can live a much better life when you're grateful because as you improve your relationship to the world, you feel better within your body. Grateful people take better care of themselves as they appreciate their health more.
7. You Increase Your Self-control
As David DeSteno says, "When you're faced with a challenging temptation in the moment, rather than solely trying to exert willpower, simply stopping and thinking of something you're grateful for should enhance your ability to make a wiser decision." As life coach Peter Lambert says, gratitude gives you more patience and makes you less selfish.
8. Your Relationships Improves
When you're more grateful and generous to the people who you care most about, your relationships improve. Not only will they feel more appreciated by you, but when they feel more appreciated and cared for, they'll reflect positive feelings back towards you. As opposed to taking each other for granted, when you truly appreciate your significant other, your relationship becomes more magical again.
9. You're Less Materialistic
When you appreciate what you already have, you realize that a bigger house or a new car are not the things that will really make you happier deep down. In fact, material things can actually feel sort of empty and meaningless. But when you're thankful that you have a roof over your head and plenty of food to eat -- something not everyone around the world has -- you won't be as tied to physical things anymore.
10. You Enrich Your Children
Research has shown that when you encourage gratitude in children, it has some remarkable effects. It turns out that kids who are grateful are happier, experience less volatile emotions, and feel that life has more meaning to them.
Gratitude is an emotion that's worth cultivating as it will make your life better. You can start simply, by thinking of five things in your day today that you're grateful for. There's no doubt that we all want to be happy, have good relationships, and good health. The only thing you need to do to create more of these good things in your life, is to cultivate the gratitude within you.
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