I heard a great quote the other day that goes, “The definition of insanity is thinking you need something you don’t already have.

It’s hard to not want and desire more. We live in a consumer driven society that pushes messages of consumption and materialism.

Though, as the quote implies, if we don’t have something already and are fine, obviously we don’t really need it.

In general, it’s important to be grateful and thankful for what we have in our life. We may be grateful for our overall life circumstances and general lifestyle, or specifically thankful for a gift or benefit someone else provides us.

The catch is that it’s not always easy to really appreciate what we have, and it can be easy to lose our appreciation as we get used to our situation or run into difficult situations.

Fortunately, studies show that gratitude can be deliberately cultivated, and that there is an association between gratitude and an overall sense of well-being.

Gratitude tends to foster positive feelings and is associated with increased levels of energy, optimism and empathy.

Though there isn’t clear empirical data for the effectiveness of all the below strategies, there are still many relatively easy to use strategies to enhance gratitude.

Strategies to enhance the feeling of gratitude:

  • Journal about things for which we are grateful
  • Thinking about some for who we are grateful
  • Meditating on gratitude
  • Praying about your gratitude if religious
  • Writing or sending a letter to someone to whom you are grateful
  • Count your blessings exercise: write down three things for which you are grateful at the end of each week
  • Practice saying thanking in a sincere and meaningful way
  • Write thank you notes

In my life, when I focus on what I am thankful for instead of what I’m dissatisfied with, it provides a wonderful sense of contentment and gladness.

This pining for more contributes to a drop in well-being, by leading to angst and agitation, and distracting us from the good things in our life.

If we could learn to accept and enjoy the moment and let go of the constant desire “to have what we don’t have,” we can begin to reap the emotional rewards of this state of appreciation and gratitude.

Photo credit: kelsey_lovefusionphoto

 


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    Last reviewed: 23 Oct 2011

APA Reference
Wilner, J. (2011). Increase Your Well-being with Gratitude and Appreciation. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/positive-psychology/2011/10/increase-well-being-with-grateful-and-appreciation/

 

 

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