It is the season of giving in many parts of the world. Whether we celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or Kwanzaa, it’s important to practice gratitude.
Christmas is that time of the year when we celebrate and give thanks for the things that have happened to us throughout the year. In addition, this celebration is the most beautiful time of the year to spend with family and friends.
But why is it so important to be grateful? What benefits does it bring us?
What is gratitude?
Gratitude, by definition, is the quality of being grateful, consisting of appreciating the (non-materialistic) aspects of life and the willingness to recognize that others play a role in our emotional well-being.
Benefits of gratitude:
Oftentimes, people understand the practice of gratitude as something distant, almost mystical. developing this capacity however, can change our perspective of the world. Gratitude leads us to value what is working in our life, it helps to make our virtues and environment visible, and it keeps us focused on the Present moment.
Gratitude can also help us to reconcile with the past, seeing trials as something to learn from rather than a painful memory. Having this perspective lightens our backpack of negative experiences. It helps us learn about ourselves and others.
The good news is that gratitude is addictive: the more we practice it, the more we need to keep practicing it. This appreciation releases dopamine, a natural reward for our body that acts as a stimulant and motivator.
Numerous scientific investigations support the power of gratitude. Among the most studied benefits are the following:
How to train gratitude?
Training ourselves to practice gratitude goes beyond basic courtesy rules like saying thank you when people serve you a coffee or offer you a seat. It is about incorporating it as an attitude, opening up the senses, reflecting, and transferring it to our daily lives, until it becomes second nature.
Some ideas that can help you are:
Create a Gratitude Journal
Write down everything you are grateful for each day. It does not have to be big things. For example, tasting a delicious piece of fruit or receiving a gesture from a person, are lovely things to recognize as gifts. Write down everything that you could have overlooked throughout the day.
Say thanks to someone else: tell them!
Write a thank you letter to a significant person in your life. Be thankful for everything it has given you, what it made you learn, what it meant for your development, etc. Then, if you feel like it, give it to that person.
The gratitude gallery
Choose a box or container where you can keep small objects that symbolize moments in which you have felt particularly happy or grateful. Some theater tickets, the wrapping of a special chocolate bar, or the clothing tag that makes you feel particularly comfortable. Photograph moments, situations, objects, people... things that make you feel grateful or evoke this feeling in you.
The walk of gratitude
Get out of the house and take a memorable walk. Focus all your attention on those things you like, focus on perceiving the most sensory side: smells, sounds, light, etc., and observe situations that may awaken your curiosity. Get away from your usual worries and enjoy the present moment.
Messages with intention:
Write concrete phrases with messages that activate feelings of gratitude in you. You can write them down on small sticky notes and hang them in a place where you can see them daily. You can also keep them in a small box and pull some out randomly whenever you feel like it, like an emotional toolbox.
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