According to the dictionary, gratitude is the state of being thankful.
It has two components, according to Br. David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. The first is appreciation for what you have received. This has nothing to do with monetary value but is simply an awareness that something has value to you.
The second component is understanding that the value comes from something outside of yourself.
Gratitude forces you to look outside of your own abilities to realize that others have an impact on your life.
What is Gratitude?
Gratitude is a choice. In most cultures and religions, gratitude is considered part of a healthy lifestyle. It is a daily decision to live gratefully for the things that you have in your life.
It includes a recognition that there is a higher power, or a force greater than you, that has given you the abilities and blessings that you have. This can include material things, family, friends and other elements of your life that bring value.
Living a life of gratitude notices the small details that may get overlooked in a hectic lifestyle and carves out time to show appreciation for them.
You can show gratitude throughout your day in meaningful ways. Send notes of thanks to people you encounter who have impacted your life in some way.
Write a list of things you’re grateful for and review it whenever you start to feel stressed.
Compliment someone on an aspect of their character that you appreciate. Providing more than a superficial “Your hair looks nice!” is more meaningful and impacting to the recipient and shows that you genuinely appreciate them.
What Gratitude is Not
Gratitude is not an overly simplified, false sense of happiness. You don’t need to show a fake sense of thankfulness for everything that happens in life.
A full range of emotions is part of the human experience and being upset about one thing does not take away from being thankful for others.
Instead of focusing on the negative, however, living a life of gratitude allows you to find a reason to be thankful in every situation.
Gratitude is not Bragging
Giving genuine thanks for the things you have is a show of humility. When the focus is on the giver, not the gift, gratitude is powerful. It recognizes that someone else provided what you have and helps to keep you humble.
Small acts of gratitude can help to change your attitude and have long-term positive effects on your life. A grateful person is happier, has less stress and has better mental health.
In addition, showing gratitude is contagious. Being grateful to others helps to inspire them, and they can then show gratitude. It creates a domino effect of happiness that can change your perspective. Cultivating an environment of gratitude can lead to success in both your personal and professional life.
Look for ways to include gratitude into your daily life. When opportunity arises, respond with gratitude and see how that affects the way you view the world. How can you implement a lifestyle of gratitude?
What are some of the ways that gratitude has impacted your life?
Michele Bailey is president and CEO of Blazing Agency and My Big Idea™. These two lines of business work congruently to support her clients’ success.