Something as simple as giving thanks hides a benefit so great that, sometimes, we cannot even imagine. A simple gesture like saying "thank you" is the beginning of the process. Being grateful is a psychological attitude that can transform our lives far beyond what we can initially think.
Throughout the article we will discuss what it means to be grateful and we will investigate what its benefits are. Finally, some small exercises to practice gratitude will be considered. Some exercises that can be performed on a daily basis and, although they seem simple, in the long run, we will observe that something has changed in us.
- 1 What is being grateful?
- 2 Benefits of being grateful
- 3 Recommendations to be grateful
What is being grateful?
Being grateful is more than thanking when they do you a favor or give you a gift, although it is also related. Being grateful implies an internal process. It is a psychological and emotional process through which we recognize those factors that we enjoy in our day to day. A large number of people, despite having good economy, enjoying housing, food, clothing and having their basic physiological needs covered, have a habit of complaining about anything. Who doesn't know someone like that?
Emmons and McCullough (2001) define gratitude as "a cognitive affective state resulting from the perception of having been benefited by an external agent, in a solidary, selfless and free way". However, these authors go further and add that "the gratitude experienced when receiving a gift, whether material or not, It is a strategy of psychological adaptation by which experiences are interpreted positive everyday".
The definition of Emmons and McChollough is limited to what we receive externally, however, they provide a fundamental fact: everyday experiences are interpreted positively. In this way, gratitude goes beyond gifts. It is about thanking everything that allows us to have a more comfortable life, even if we go through setbacks. Gratitude broadens our vision of everyday life and elevates it to a state in which we are aware of everything we enjoy..
From shortage to abundance
In other words, the most heard speech is that of "I'm missing this or I'm missing that to be happy". That is, we usually have a speech of lack. But what would happen if our speech were of abundance? "I have a house, food, clothes, bed ..." If we change the approach, this impact generates in our mind such an impact that would transform the way we see life.
When reference is made to abundance, it is not about deceiving ourselves and thinking about having more than we have. If not recognize what we really own and that we usually never take into account. What do I have to be happy? What is in my life that makes my day-to-day life easier? My parents have given me life and help me, my friends are by my side, I can eat daily ...
Benefits of being grateful
Research on the effects of gratitude is still being investigated, however, some of its benefits are already evident.
Increase our happiness
Emmons and Stern (2013), state that "the empowerment and practice of gratitude is very beneficial for our psychological state since it gives us positive experiences such as well-being, happiness, positive affection and prosocial behaviors that they act as a barrier to negative emotions". Watkins, Cruz, Holben and Kolts (2003), emphasize that gratitude "It relates positively to optimism, joy and enthusiasm".
These authors are aware that a state of gratitude changes our perspective on our surroundings and makes us more positive people. If we begin to thank what we have, both tangible and intangible, our happiness will be increased and will serve to neutralize negative emotions. If we know that we enjoy a basic well-being, we will be able to give certain setbacks fair importance instead of making mountains of grains of sand.
Decrease depression symptoms
Selingman's team (2005) states that gratitude relieves symptoms of depression. It certainly represents an "antidote" to relieve certain symptoms of depression. As mentioned earlier, when our mental discourse is lacking, both materially and psychologically, we can enter a loop of thoughts that plunge us into enormous sadness. And, in this way, it would not be surprising if we end up suffering from depression.
Being grateful reverses our internal discourse. In depression our internal discourse is usually focused on negative aspects: "I have no job", "I am a failure", "I have nothing" ... However, if we look closely, and with this we do not intend to downplay something so delicate as a depression, with gratitude part of this negativity can be modified. How can we put it into practice?
- "I don't have a job, but I thank you for having food every day that gives me the strength to achieve my goals and keep looking for my job opportunity."
- "I am a failure. Are you sure? What if I start to value everything I have achieved and to thank for what I have? Thank you to my parents for paying me for my studies. Thanks to companies for giving me job opportunities. Situations have come to me. in which I have done things well. I appreciate all these situations that have brought out the best in me. "
- "I have nothing. To what extent do I have nothing? I turn on the tap and water comes out. I give the switch and the light comes on. I am dressed. I enjoy food. I thank you for all that I have and that so far I have not I have valued. "
More benefits of gratitude
Park, Peterson and Selingman (2004) point out more benefits of this practice:
- It gives us a better coping with problems, so influences better problem solving.
- Increase work performance.
- Raise the resistance to stress and anxiety.
- It improves physical health.
Recommendations to be grateful
Although they seem simple, these recommendations, if practiced consistently, consciously and genuinely, will begin to transform our lives.
- Thank you every morning to have a new opportunity to change our lives.
- When we clean and dress, thank you that we have water to wash our face and teeth. By dressing up, appreciate that we have clothes in the closet.
- A few seconds before breakfast, say thank you for having food right in front of us.
- If we have work, thank you for the opportunity you gave us. If we do not have it, thank all we have achieved so far and continue with courage and strength to continue looking for it. Or in your case, we can also try to undertake something on our own.
- When it is time to eat, repeat the same as with breakfast. But this time we can also add a little ritual and think about all those people involved in having food in front of us. From those who planted vegetables, vendors ... That is, to thank everything that makes it possible for us to have a plate of food in front of us.
- Appreciate any gesture from those of us around us, known or unknown. Both someone who gives way to us with the car, someone who lets us pass in the queue of the supermarket, etc.
- Before we go to bed, to thank for everything positive that has happened in our day. But what happens if we consider that nothing positive has happened? As Buddhist psychology states, in this case, we must thank the setbacks because from them we can get great lessons.
- Emmons, R. and McCullough, M. (2003). Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84 (2), 377-389.
- Emmons, R. and Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention. Journal of clinical psychology: in session. 69 (8), 846-855.
- Park, N., Peterson, C. and Seligman, M. (2004). Strengths of character and wellbeing. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 23 (5), 603-619.
- Seligman, M, Steen, T., Park, N. and Peterson, C. (2005). Positive Psychology
Progress Empirical Validation of Interventions. American Psychologist, 60 (5),