“The Importance of gratitude“
Do you sometimes wonder why you’re not feeling joyful and contented each day? Are you struggling to understand why the new car, house or boat is now losing its appeal? Have you been promising yourself that when you drop some weight, get a new hair style, retire, get a new job, get a partner, tidy the garden, or go on a holiday, that you will feel happier and more fulfilled with your life?
You’re on a treadmill, and the reality is that there is no end to the desires and wants and pie-in-the-sky fantasies about how and when life will be what you perceive as perfect.
This is known as the hedonic effect. Eventually, no matter how much we have externally, we can become dissatisfied and begin to long for more of a certain thing, or for something completely different.
So, are we intrinsically cursed to be miserable? Or is there a piece of the puzzle that we have overlooked? There’s a 1980’s song by cowboy Johnny Lee called Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places, and it seems that our priorities in modern day living have us focusing on looking to material possessions or certain situations in the belief, or at least the hope, that they will bring us joy and a feeling of completeness.
I can already hear a chorus of collective buts…excuses and justifications for why it is necessary to stay exactly where you are right now. On the treadmill of your daily life. And while these reasons surely have validity and we need to honour certain responsibilities, we do not need to feel continually despondent in our daily lives. There is a word we need to become best friends with in order to alter our perspective – GRATITUDE
What does gratitude mean?
If you’re anything like me, you may have up until now associated gratitude with showing appreciation to someone who has done something for you. A kind of alternative word for thank you. And up to a point this is correct; but feelings of gratitude, science is now showing us, are more than just fleeting responses to isolated events. Gratitude is a positive emotion in its own right. Positive psychology is proving that the effects of ongoing gratitude are measurable and long lasting. And most importantly, improve our physical, mental and emotional health.
Simply put – practising gratitude makes us happier.
How do we incorporate gratitude into daily life?
1. Keep a gratitude journal. This is as simple as writing down five things you are grateful for in the morning when you awaken, and again before you go to sleep. What a way to start and end the day!
2. Stop complaining. The old cup half full/half empty conundrum. Embrace challenges gracefully.
3. Smile. In the mirror, at a stranger or just because. You can’t maintain negativity and smile at the same time. It’s magic.
4. Mindfulness meditation. Picture with eyes closed all you are grateful for. This rewires your brain and improves happiness after just eight weeks of practice.
5. Do some volunteer work.
6. Notice the small things. A flower growing in a pavement crack; a tiny ant; a child’s smile, a butterfly.