This concept is so widely used these days. It has become a popular area of research with studies proving a link between gratitude and better emotional well being. It has become a psychological intervention – you may have come across the term in self-help and modern philosophy literature. Interestingly, this makes it all seem really complicated, but really it is so simple and underpins many religious and spiritual teachings.
When did we stop being grateful? Why do we need to be told to practice gratitude? We can get so consumed with the demands of society that we become tunnel visioned and perhaps a bit target orientated – looking for more and not actually feeling satisfied with what we already have. This way of thinking can be a hard habit to break, but an important one to break if you really want to appreciate life and feel joy. Practicing a bit of gratitude everyday can be a good way to start ‘training’ yourself to notice the positives and usually these can be the littlest and most simplistic things in life, yet the most life changing.
I explore with clients creative ways to feel and show thankfulness, appreciation and gratitude. One of my favourite suggestions (and one I use myself) is to make or buy yourself a Gratitude ‘Container’ – mine is a jar which I have decorated with gems and beads. You might choose a box or a tin. Make it feel special. Every night write down what you have been grateful for that day and place it in your container. Don’t worry if you don’t remember ‘feeling’ grateful at that time but replay your day in your mind and wonder about where you ‘could’ have felt grateful. Keep adding to your container regularly and watch it build over time. Initially this might feel like an effort but eventually it will become second nature.
The more situations you recognise a reason to be grateful for, the more genuine gratitude will begin to feel. You will become happier about what you have in your life and less worried about what you don’t. Not only will you accept yourself better you will become more accepting of others and generally more positive about life.