Gratitude is the thankful awareness of what we have received. It can be tangible or intangible. Gratitude comes from the Latin word gratus. This means grace, graciousness or gratefulness and gratitude encompasses all of these.
When we feel gratitude, there is a sense of joy for what has happened or is happening in our life. Gratitude helps us to recognise and acknowledge the good things that surround us and to understand that they often come from people and the outside world.
Gratitude helps us to connect to something beyond ourselves (as the individual), whether it is a stronger connection to others, nature, or a higher power. Gratitude is strongly connected to increased feelings of happiness. Being grateful can help us to experience more positive emotions and improved health. We are better able to handle stress, and can feel a lightening of spirit.
Gratitude can be something another person did for us, a wonderful stroll beside the ocean or perhaps the smell of fresh roses. It is not about indebtedness. Gratitude is not something we owe. We can feel and express gratitude for things from our past (childhood memories or our parents), the present (a relaxing lunch with friends or a beautiful sunny day), and the future (feeling positive and optimistic about things to come).
Gratitude isn’t saved for the “big” things in life. Being grateful begins with the understanding that there is nothing too small for you to be thankful for.
It can be as simple as appreciating your morning cup of tea or the phone call from your daughter
Here are some simple ways to develop a sense of gratitude on a daily basis.
Write down what you are grateful for in a journal. Add to it each day.
Count your blessings. Choose a number (like 3 or 5) of things to be grateful for. Pick a time each day to take note of them. It could be when you wake up in the morning or go to bed at night.
Appreciate the beauty in nature.
Keep in contact with family members and friends. Tell them how much they mean to you. Spend quality time with them.
Cook meals with love and think of the people you are cooking for.
Give thanks before you eat your meal.
Choose one day a week where you don’t complain about anything. If negative thoughts come up, try to see the positive side of the situation.
Thank those that serve you in your community - at the super market, hair salon, or in a restaurant
Develop mindful habits. Slow down. Appreciate the small stuff.
Practice simple meditation on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be for long. Even a few minutes makes a difference. Focus on that which you are grateful for. Let it fill your heart. Then send those loving feelings back into the world.
Include an act of kindness everyday. Play it forward.
Read inspiring books or watch inspiring movies.
Live in the moment - engage all the senses.
See how to grow from your mistakes.
If you cannot be with a person, you can still think about them and send them thanks mentally.
Send love to those who may have wronged you in some way. Learn to forgive.
Volunteer - help at animal shelters or with the homeless. Helping others is one of the best ways to enhance your sense of well-being.
Use prayer to cultivate gratitude.