Every language in the world has a way of saying “thank you.” This is because gratitude is an inherent quality that resides within each human being, and is triggered and expressed spontaneously in a variety of different contexts. Gratitude is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in one’s experience. It is the acknowledgment of the positive things that come our way that we did not actively work toward or ask for. Gratitude is a feeling that spontaneously emerges from within. However, it is not simply an emotional response; it is also a choice we make. We can choose to be grateful, or we can choose to be ungrateful—to take our gifts and blessings for granted. As a choice, gratitude is an attitude or disposition. The daily practice of gratitude keeps the heart open regardless of what comes our way.
6 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Keeping a gratitude journal and recording once a week all the things you have to be grateful for, and other gratitude exercises can increase your energy, and relieve pain and fatigue. You can make a list of each day’s “little joys,” moments that you would fail to appreciate if you didn’t record them. This exercise reminds you of all the blessings in your life and encourages you to appreciate those mundane moments that can be sources of joy.
Use the Right Words
Words literally can change the way you think about things. Positive words can alter the meaning of events, making us more grateful for the experience.
The first step to thankfulness is to remember those in our lives who have walked with us and shown kindness for deeds big and small. The mere exercise of remembering such people can cultivate gratitude in your life.
Write Thank-you Letters
A letter is especially powerful when you have not properly thanked the person in the past, and when you read the letter aloud to the person face to face.
Hang With the Winners
Studies show that if you surround yourself with optimists, you will end up more positive than if you keep company with a bunch of whiners. By merely sitting next to a person who likes the words “thank you,” there is a high probability that you will start using those words as well.
Giving back doesn’t mean reciprocating favors so that everything is fair and the tally is even. That’s the beauty of giving. If someone does an act of kindness for you, one way to say thanks is to do the same for another.
- Those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis , reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week.
- Participants who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based)
- A daily gratitude intervention (self-guided exercises) with young adults resulted in higher reported levels of the positive states of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness and energy
- Children who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and their families
- Those who regularly attend religious services and engage in religious activities are more likely to be grateful. Grateful people are more likely to acknowledge a belief in the interconnection of all life and a commitment to and responsibility to others
- Grateful individuals place less importance on material goods; they are less likely to judge their own and others success in terms of possessions accumulated; they are less envious of others; and are more likely to share their possessions with others relative to less grateful persons.