On social media as well as private chats, we often receive quotes encouraging us to be grateful for everything we have and the miracles life has to offer. We “like” and share these quotes and truly want to believe we are grateful. But such feelings are generally short-lived.
Why is it important to be grateful?
Is it just to feel good or are there tangible benefits from being thankful? Can we translate the feeling of gratitude into meaningful action and behavior changes? Consistently.
Often as we navigate through life and face obstacles, we are prone to lose hope and feel victimized, cynical or defeated. We respond based on such negative feelings and are likely not objective. Practicing gratitude provides a framework to be rational and humane, yielding tangible benefits –
- Strengthens your belief in others – “people care about me”
- Provides hope – “all is not lost”
- Builds empathy for those less fortunate – “it could be a lot worse”
- Drives thoughtful, calculated decisions – “how do we move from here?”
- Boosts self-confidence – “my actions are well-received by my peers and superiors”
In addition, expressing gratitude to someone or something bigger than us, such as the almighty God for this beautiful planet; to our parents for giving us this life, love and path to happiness; to our teachers for educating us to be good citizens, etc., fosters humility.
Each one of us is a small part of an ecosystem, without which we would not be able to realise the achievements we pride ourselves in.
Making gratitude an essential part of our day
A few years ago, a motivational speaker who addressed our annual business leadership forum offered a tactic that has stuck with me; successfully, I might add!
Everyday, think about the experiences that touched your life in the last 24 hours and find three specific things you are grateful for.
Some days that will be hard to do, but take your time. Here some steps that could help build this habit.
- Set up a daily routine and do it at about the same time each day, whether you are home or traveling. For example, I have incorporated it into my morning prayer ritual. But you could do it every night before you hit the bed. Whatever works for you as part of your daily routine.
- Be specific – most of us are fortunate to have loving families, relatively healthy lives and financial stability and for those, we are always grateful. Take it to the next level. For example, “I am grateful for the wonderful time I had with my friend at dinner last night”, “I am grateful my brother said he is recovering well from his injury”
- Nothing is trivial – it is OK if some thoughts seem trivial. It is whatever you deem to have a positive impact on your day, however small. For example, you could be grateful for that unique flavour of coffee your friend brewed for you!
- Failure is not an option – most importantly, do not step away from your ritual until you have identified 3 specific positives over the last 24 hours. Some days are very hard, especially if you have had a serious unfortunate experience (say a death in the family or friends’ circle). As difficult as the situation might be, be thankful for a call of emotional support you received, or for someone that dropped off food when you had no desire to arrange for it.
As with adopting any new behaviours, it will take resolve and practice to start to truly believe in thankfulness and make it second-nature to oneself.
We begin to realize the positive impacts of this change not only in times of joy, but especially when facing adversity in personal or professional lives.
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