In the United States of America and Canada there is a day reserved for it, gratitude. Gratitude has a lot of positive side effects, so just one day is not enough! However, we are not that great in expressing our gratitude yet. Women do it better, 52 percent express gratitude daily, versus 44 percent of men (John Templeton Foundation, 2013). But why is it so important? And how do you increase gratitude? We will explain.
Gratitude and your health
Research on characteristic traits shows that gratitude is the best predictor for mental health (Journal of Personality, 2005). People who show gratitude and feel grateful are happier! It promotes positivity and overall satisfaction. It reduces the risk on a depression and increases the feeling of self control (Harvard Medical School, n.d.). It also affects physical health, it shows that people who suffer from cardiac diseases improve just by being more grateful (American Psychological Association, 2015).
The secret to having it all, is knowing you already do.
Gratitude is a character thing, some people are just naturally more grateful than others. That is OK: You can become grateful by practise too. Meditate and count your blessings! Follow these tips as a guideline:
#1 Show pictures and memories
Place a picture of your lover, sister or maybe even your dog at your desk. Decorate your fridge with beautiful memories and change the background of your phone. Visuals will affect your feelings better than memories will! Multiple reminders a day of a special person in your life or of a beautiful moment will give you that instant feeling of gratitude.
#2 Write a letter
Are you not a good writer? That is no excuse. You do not have to write a novel, you do not even have to click send! Just start. Research has shown that writing a letter, sent or not, can positively affect your feelings. Writing gets you thinking, what do you want to write and why do you want to write it? Who do you want to write to? Does nobody come to mind? Write a letter to yourself!
#3 Make a list
Take five minutes of your time before going to sleep to write down three things you are grateful for. This does not only enhance gratitude, it also has a positive effect on your sleep. Do you want to take it a step further? Then also make lists in the morning. What are you planning to do today that will make you feel grateful at night?
#4 Take care of yourself
You cannot be grateful for your blessings if you are not happy with yourself. Plan in me-time and be grateful for yourself first and foremost. Give yourself space to feel what you feel and to think what you think. You are the most beautiful thing you can become.
Goals: How grateful are you? Activate the ‘Feel Goal’ and write down three persons, moments or things you are grateful for and explain why.