I’m sure gratitude is a familiar concept to you. You were probably taught to say “please” and “thank you,” learned about grace and gratitude through religious scripture, and even celebrate the national holiday of Thanksgiving.

We live in a fairly abundant society were most people have their basic needs met and live a comfortable life style.

Why then is being grateful not so easy?

This is because true gratitude is not a scripted or obligatory emotional experience. Simply being polite is not the same as gratitude.

We live a society that emphasizes materialism and individuality, and we are encouraged to have more and be the best.

By comparing ourselves to others and focusing on what we lack we experience an attitude of greed and envy, and it will become increasingly more difficult to experience gratitude.

When it comes down to it, gratitude is a skill that we need to learn. We’re not born understanding and knowing how to be grateful, appreciative, and thankful.

If you weren’t taught to say “thank you” and appreciate what you have as a child, there is still time to turn around your thinking, and good reason to do so.

What good is gratitude?

Science shows that that people who keep a gratitude journal or a list of what they’re thankful for report having more energy, improved mood, more life satisfaction, and are more supportive to others.

  • It helps us focus on the good things we have, and not on what we lack.
  • It promotes positive social interactions, and makes it more likely we’ll help others.
  • It helps us cope with difficulties and overcome traumatic experiences.
  • It helps us focus on the positive and access positive memories.

How to increase gratitude?

There are many ways to begin making gratitude a habit in your life. Research has revealed that gratitude can be enhanced by writing a letter of gratitude to someone you need to thank, and personally delivering it to them.

If this is a little too outgoing, you can also count your blessings everyday by writing a list of what you’re thankful for and the positive things that happened to you throughout the day.

Meditation can also help to cultivate an attitude of gratitude by taking time to focus on the people who have helped and offered you support in your life and really connecting with this emotional state.

Even something as small as sincerely showing appreciation and recognition by telling someone they did a good job and saying thank you offers some feelings of appreciation.

Focusing on what we have and what’s going well isn’t always easy. But, sometimes the key to getting through distress and misfortune is to find value amidst the chaos. We need to find something we’re grateful for and that’s going well or things will seem very bleak.

By making gratitude a habit in your life you will begin to see the impact it has on your overall level of positivity.

So, what are you grateful for?

Photo credit: the Italian voice

 







    Last reviewed: 2 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). How to Have an Attitude of Gratitude. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/03/how-to-have-an-attitude-of-gratitude/

 

 

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