An Attitude of Gratitude
November 18, 2019
Today we’re taking a look at gratitude–the ancient language of happiness. From early humans to current ones, gratitude has shaped the mentality of so many people in countless positive ways. Recently, psychologists have taken an interest in how gratitude can change lives. From “gratitude journals,” to just pure appreciation, it seems as if tiny sprinkles of gratitude in daily life can really work wonders for mental health and overall happiness.
The definition of gratitude according to Wikipedia is as follows: “Gratitude, thankfulness, or gratefulness, from the Latin word gratus ‘pleasing, thankful’, is a feeling of appreciation felt by and/or a similar positive response shown by the recipient of kindness, gifts, help, favors, or other types of generosity, towards the giver of such gifts.” Just reading the definition enlists a warm feeling inside myself, and I automatically picture sunlight, a clean earth, abundance of healthful food, family and friends. The words “pleasing and thankful,” enable me to feel a sense of give and take with the universe and all of its people. When you read this definition, how do you feel? Do you visualize something similar to what I visualized, something completely different, or nothing at all? Take a moment to reflect upon what the meaning of gratitude means to you. What are you grateful for, and why? Having a “gratitude journal” to reflect upon these questions is a great way to elicit a sense of gratitude in yourself.
Speaking of a gratitude journal, it is important to pick a visually pleasing journal that you will look forward to writing in. Setting aside the time to write is at the discretion of the writer, however, when you wake up each morning or when you go to bed each night are typically the best times to write. According to the website https://bringgratitude.com/science-behind-gratitude-journal/, the blogger mentions that as her father began to pass away, she felt increasingly hopeless. She decided to pick up her old gratitude journal that she’d fell out of practice of using. She picked up a pen and began to list the things she was grateful for. This woman had turned her sadness into hope and calmness. The gratitude she felt was counteracting the negative thoughts and feelings she was having.
I have been informally a part of the study mentioned on this website. According to psychology’s findings, “one study found that participants who wrote down three good things each day for a week were happier and less depressed at each of the one-month, three-month and six-month follow-ups.” As I was struggling with my mood, my therapist gave me an “assignment.” I was told to write my “gratefuls” as she’d call them, every single day. I would write ten gratefuls in my journal each night, and gradually, I started to feel much better. It took many months of reprogramming, but I began to look forward to writing my gratefuls each night. Eventually, you’ll find a theme. There are some things you’re grateful for that never leave your list. Like your mother, or your sister, or your friends and family. Sometimes it’s the fact that the sun rises and sets each day, or something a little more complex such as a friend sitting with you when you’re lonely.
Gratefuls are a reminder that the world is not “all bad.” There are many things to be happy about, even when it doesn’t seem like it. Our minds tend to filter out the positive and focus on the negative, because, well–it’s just what we do as humans. There is no shame in feeling depressed, anxious, shameful, angry, or whatever emotion you’d like to fill in the blank. However, there is always something we can do to relieve the tension. Gratitude is a tool to pull us out of the abyss.
I am thankful for you,