What is gratitude?
An article published in The Midlands Magazine, March 2022
“ Today I am grateful for ______ because_________”.
Gratitude might be one of my favorite topics. And not just because of all the amazing benefits but because it is a tool for life that requires no special equipment or skills, it can be practiced anywhere, costs nothing, and you only need a few moments a day to practice.
So, what is gratitude?
Gratitude is ‘the quality of being thankful; a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.’ For me personally, gratitude is that warm feeling that starts in your tummy and spreads throughout your entire body. It is walking into my children’s room at night to tuck them in and experiencing this overwhelming sense of pride and love. It is giving the beggar the spare change in my car, knowing that I have more than enough. It is the warm words, kind smiles and unexpected gestures that happen all around us every day, if only we take a moment to see them. It is learning the lesson in the storm.
Needless to say, kindness and gratitude are linked. Gratitude, from the Latin word gratus “pleasing, thankful”, is a feeling of appreciation felt by the recipient of kindness, gifts, help, favors, or other types of generosity, to the giver of said ‘gifts’. And sometimes the giver of these said ‘gifts’ could well be ourselves or a higher being, God if you will.
Full disclosure here, I am a complete geek, so when there is scientific research to back these ‘woo-woo, hippy dippy’ practices, I geek out! And this is one topic where there has been so much research done to back the practice. All you have to do is Google “gratitude benefits” and you will find this research.
So, how do you practice gratitude?
Well, it’s really simple. Choose a time of the day that suits you best. I recommend setting an alarm on your phone as a reminder. Stop everything you are doing, take a few big, beautiful breaths to help be more present and more mindful. And then list 3 to 5 to 10 (or more) things, people, places, experiences (you get the idea) that you are truly grateful for and why. Use the format “ Today I am grateful for ______ because_________”.
If you practice gratitude in the mornings, this sets the tone of your day. You will inevitably find more to be grateful for in the day. If you practice gratitude in the evenings, you reflect on your day and it gives you a feeling of well-being, which helps you to sleep better.
The most important thing to remember is that you can’t do this wrong! Start with what you can and watch your practice develop naturally with time.