Give Yourself the Gift of Gratitude
What is Gratitude? Emmons and Shelton (2005) define gratitude as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness and appreciation for life” (as cited in McCabe et al., 2011, p. 183).
Individuals who are grateful have:
- High levels of optimism
- More positive feelings
- Greater life satisfaction
- Lower levels of stress and negative effect
- Greater levels of happiness
- Peace of mind (McCabe et al., 2011, p. 184).
“Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack” (Harvard Health Publishing).
Gratitude can relate to past blessings that you are grateful for, the present moment by not taking things for granted, and the future with feelings of hopefulness.
This holiday season, test out a new gratitude practice to experience more positive feelings and greater levels of happiness. Here are a few strategies you can try:
- Write and deliver a thank you card.
- Keep a gratitude journal and write down things you are thankful for each day.
- Each week, reflect on specific things you are grateful for and write them down.
- Every morning as you make your coffee/tea or eat breakfast, think of 3 things you are grateful for.
- Various mindfulness or meditation practices can help you focus on the present moment and what you’re grateful for.
- Thank your partner, family member or colleague.
With so many health benefits, gratitude is a gift we all deserve this holiday season.
“Gratitude undeniably ‘is the wind beneath our wings’, it broadens our attention scope, opens us up to the world, and brings us closer to others” (Gruszecka, 2015, p. 189).
Interested in learning more about positive psychology and gratitude? Check out these resources:
- Greater Good Science Centre: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/
- Gratitude Meditation from the Greater Good Science Centre: https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/gratitude_meditation
- Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/positive-psychology
- TED Talks on happiness and gratitude: https://www.ted.com/talks?sort=relevance&topics%5B%5D=happiness&q=gratitude
Gruszecka, Eufrozyna. "Appreciating Gratitude: Is Gratitude an Amplifier of Well-being?" Polish Psychological Bulletin 46.2 (2015): 186-96. ProQuest. Web. 21 Nov. 2019.
McCabe, K., Bray, M. A., Kehle, T. J., Theodore, L. A., & Gelbar, N. W. (2011). Promoting happiness and life satisfaction in school children. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 26(3), 177-192.
Miller, C. (2015). In Praise of Gratitude. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/positive-psychology.