Future Self

How Gratitude Can Improve Your Life

Gratitude is defined as a positive emotion of being thankful for something an individual has received. When we express gratitude, we appreciate what others have given to us or done for us. We return the kindness others have shown.

According to Robert Emmons there are two components to gratitude, the first one being the affirmation of goodness, or we recognise the good things we received. The second component is that we acknowledge that the gifts, the things we are thankful for came from other people or even from a higher being.

Gratitude fosters humility in people. We become aware that we need others to survive and cope with life’s challenges. Showing gratitude makes people feel that they have given back to those who have helped them or given them something.

Life changes when you become grateful. Gratitude can help you become the person that you want to be. It can lead to the life you have been wanting to live. How?

Gratitude improves physical health

Gratitude can greatly impact a person’s life on many levels. It can improve the three life aspects that most people want, that is better health, better relationships, and better wealth.

Various research done by positive psychologists show that gratitude can lead to increased levels of wellbeing. Gratitude can improve not only your physical health but your mental state as well.

Gratitude increases cardiovascular health. It reduces blood pressure inflammation and stress. It was noted in a study by Robert Emmons that grateful people have a 16% lower blood pressure and 10% lower systolic pressure.

Reflecting on the things you are grateful for helps you sleep better, have fewer headaches and body pain. It improves your immunity against diseases because you are more able to handle stress.

Gratitude improves an individual’s mental state. People who practice gratitude are more optimistic and less depressed. A more positive outlook in life lessens the occurrence of substance abuse disorders and prevents suicide.

Being more positive gives you the motivation to exercise more and be more aware of the food you eat. Gratitude leads to a healthier and happier life. Being grateful lets you seize every moment and act more toward your future self.

Gratitude improves relationships

Gratitude is contagious. Once someone shows gratitude a chain reaction of goodness and positivity starts because people want to reciprocate the appreciation that others have shown on them. Expressing thankfulness to others not only allows them to know their value but also develops a feeling of wanting to reciprocate the act of generosity.

Showing others their value in your life and wanting to return that act helps maintain and strengthen your relationships. It makes your relationships more satisfying because you form a deeper connection and commitment.

Research shows that the more satisfied a person is in the relationship the less likely that person would break away from that relationship. Appreciating the people around you and things they do reminds them of the reasons for having and maintaining those relationships.

Valuing others lets them know that you think and consider them more than you do yourself. You become more responsive to their needs and more attentive to what they say. You let them know that you truly care.

Relationships become more difficult when people take each other for granted. Not showing appreciation or one’s value leads to failure of that relationship whether it be romantic or not.

Gratitude leads to better wealth

A recent study shows that practicing genuine gratitude in the workplace fosters better stress responses and increases workers ability to cope better with stress when doing difficult tasks.  Being appreciated increases the cardiovascular stress profile which allows individuals to work better individually or in groups.

Christopher Oveis mentioned that gratitude seemed to serve as a buffer against threat responses like the effects of social evaluation. It helps workers remember that they are valued by others. When someone is valued and appreciated their self-confidence increases and this allows them to think and perform better.

Performing better at work can lead to a job promotion or increase in income. Having the ability to cope better with stress means lesser absences and thus greater income as well.

Why we do not practice gratitude

Zig Ziglar has noted that gratitude is the healthiest emotion. He and other positive psychologists have also shown that gratitude leads to happiness, so why then do we not practice gratitude every day? What hinders us from being happy and appreciating everything around us?

One reason for this is the fact that we have been made to conform to what society tells us. It has honed us to be materialistic by telling us that we must have certain material things to be happy.

When we live in a materialistic society, we tend to forget what gratitude is because we think we are entitled to have certain things and that if we can buy them or acquire them for ourselves then we have nothing or no one to be thankful for. We forget the other aspects of life and take blessings and other things for granted.

We have regarded gratitude only as a feeling rather than as a virtue. Most have become self-centered by giving more importance to themselves and wanting to be admired or accepted. This leads people to become more ungrateful because they think they are entitled to certain favors and therefore there is no need to show gratitude.

Furthermore, negativity has become quite prevalent in today’s world. The Covid-19 pandemic and the economic downturn has brought about so much pain and suffering that we have become too focused on the difficulties we face and have forgotten how to be thankful for the little things the universe has given us.  

Most of us live on survival mode and have lost focus and empathy for our future selves. We have become less aware of the fact that gratitude is a choice and that we must be thankful for not only the things that we have or what others have done for us, but more so for ourselves and the things we have done to have the future that we want.

Practice gratitude every day

Gratitude is a choice. It is a trait that can be developed with practice by becoming more aware of the positive side of every circumstance and the things that we should be thankful for.

The simplest way to practice gratitude is to set a time each night before you sleep and reflect on the things that you are thankful for. Think of what occurred during the day. Did someone give you or do something for you? Did you fully show appreciation? What did you like about your day and why?

Aside from these questions that focus on others it is likewise as important to be aware of the good things you have done for yourself. Recognising your accomplishments, no matter how little they may be, motivates you to further act towards your future self.

Put in mind your future self and be guided by him every day to help you form that much needed relationship and empathy to be the person you want to be. This helps you to stop living in survival mode and assures you that you can have and live the future that you want.

You can write down all the things you are thankful for in a journal and recite them upon waking up. Doing so allows you to start your day on a positive note. Showing how thankful you are to others spreads positivity.

If you want to know more on how to express gratitude, click the link to listen to my podcast entitled Gratitude 3.0.

Begin your legacy now. Make gratitude a part of your everyday life and start that chain reaction to a better future.

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