November month is celebrated is a national gratitude month. But what does gratitude mean? Gratitude is an act or a quality to show appreciation towards others and be thankful. It is more than just saying ‘thank you’ for it has enormous power in changing moods, having better health and better wellbeing. It so happens that in our busy lives, we tend to focus more on the negatives than on the positives. Take this scenario- you wake up late in the morning which in turn makes you late to run for the office, this makes your boss get upset with you because the work isn’t completed and this results in you sitting at your desk, working and eating simultaneously, during your lunchtime. Won’t you get frustrated when they go through this situation? But what if you be grateful for each positive thing that comes out from the negative situation? Even though you woke up late, you did wake up! That says that you are alive, be grateful! Even though your boss got upset with you, you didn’t lose your job, be grateful! Even though you had to eat your lunch at your desk, you had food on your plate, be grateful! And that is what gratitude does, it changes our way of looking at things and our focus changes from negative to positive which in turn makes us happy!
Gratitude and psychology:
As mentioned above, gratitude has immense healing powers; be it health, relationships, career or psychological wellbeing. Usually, people suffering from anxiety, stress, confidence and self -esteem issues tend to focus on the negative aspect of any situation, i.e. they tend to experience undesirable emotions which leads to negative thoughts and then negative behaviour, and this circle goes on. Gratitude is a positive or a happy emotion, it is hence used as a tool in counselling for such clients to regulate their mood and make them concentrate on the good rather than the bad.
The social psychologists believe that being grateful can help a person be more empathetic and have better social relationships as expressing gratitude is perceived that a good deed is done by another person and it is acknowledged by the one being who is being grateful.
There are many studies which have proven that gratitude has great impact on our wellbeing. A group of students were asked to remember things which they were grateful for and on the other hand another group was asked to remember their hassles and write them down. It was seen that the first group felt better about life in general, experienced positive emotions, to sum it they were able to reap benefits of wellbeing.
How to practice the magic of ‘thank you’?
‘Thank you’ are 2 most powerful words and their magic can be seen by doing any of these 8 activities. Please keep in mind that being grateful is saying ‘thank you’ out loud or in your mind.
- Let’s remember yesterday: If you remember your past as a happy one, then your today and tomorrow also becomes happy. In this activity, maintain a journal and write down all the things that happened with you the previous day that you are grateful for.
- Healing relationships: For any relationship to grow, it is important to accept the other person the way he/she is. So, note down all the points that you find good in a person in any relationship and either say thank you to them by reading out these points, writing a letter or just writing it in your gratitude journal. For example- Thank you (name of the person) for (quality).
- Sleep better: Research has found that being grateful can improve your sleep. For having a quality sleep try to remember any 3 good moments in your entire life and be grateful for them by remembering them and saying ‘thank you’ just before going to bed.
- Be deliberate: Being grateful creates a tinge of happiness within one self. Suddenly everything around you seems very colourful. For this activity, you can deliberately say the words ‘thank you’, it doesn’t have to be directed towards anyone. You can do this when you are sitting idle, waiting for someone or while going to sleep. Remember, there is nothing too much when it comes to gratitude, so be grateful for as many times as you want to! You can even set cues which will remind you to say these magic words.
- Have you taken things for granted?: Most of the times we tend to take things for granted and understand its value when that thing is deteriorating or is lost. For example, the importance of health is understood when one falls ill, the importance of money is understood when one has it less. For this activity, try to recall a part of your life which isn’t doing well, it could be your job, money or any relationship. Then try to find out positives, even the smallest ones, in that part of your life and be grateful for it. For example, ‘I am thankful that I have money to pay my bills’, ‘I am thankful that I have a laptop on my desk to work on’ etc.
- Nature walk: We are what we are because of the nature around us. So go out for a walk and observe smallest of small to biggest of big nature’s creation and be thankful to for it.
Gautam Buddha said, “Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
‘Thank you’ are the two words one might use several times, but now try to use it consciously and see its magic!