One of the cornerstones of the social media age is the infectious presence of internet buzzwords. Sects of self-proclaimed astrologers and new-age self-help gurus have championed terms such as “manifestation”, “intention”, and practices like “journalling”. A commonality among these budding communities who seek to be one with their higher selves and live abundant lives is the exploration of gratitude as the stepping stone to health, overflow, and overall happiness.
On 21 September 1965, there was an international gathering at a UN meditation room in Hawaii. There, it was decided that it would be a good idea to have one day annually to formally express gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful things of the world, hence the birth of World Gratitude Day. Following that meeting, many attendees marked Gratitude Day on 21 September 1966 back in their own countries.
For World Gratitude Day, I want to explore some academic nuances of the power of gratitude and share some gratitude practices that will improve your quality of life.
According to a Harvard Medical School research article, “the word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context).” In positive psychology research, gratitude is linked to positive emotions, high self-esteem, well-developed empathy, healthy sleeping patterns, and a higher release of feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin.
Industrial psychology research (which specialises in workplace dynamics) gathered that managers who remembered to say “thank you” to their workers noted those employees felt motivated to work more diligently. That’s one real-life example. Here are some ways you could cultivate gratitude in your life:
Keep a Gratitude Journal
Establish a daily ritual in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and boons you enjoy. Recalling moments of gratitude associated with your attributes, ordinary events, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable theme of gratefulness into your life.
Remember the Bad
Be grateful for your current state. It is helpful to remember the hard times you once experienced. When you are mindful of how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you create a fertile ground for gratefulness.
Ask Yourself Three Questions
Meditate on your relationships with parents, friends, siblings, work associates, children, and partners using these three questions:
“What have I received from __?”
“What have I given to __?”
“What troubles and difficulties have I caused?”
Share Your Gratitude with Others
Research has found that expressing gratitude can strengthen relationships. So the next time your partner, friend, or family member does something you appreciate, be sure to let them know.
Come to Your Senses
Through our five senses, we appreciate what it means to be human and what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. When seen through the lens of gratitude, the human body is not only a miraculous construction but also a gift.
Use Visual Reminders
Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of thankfulness. The best visual reminders are other people.
Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude
Research shows that making an oath to behave a certain way increases the likeliness of you fulfilling it. Therefore, write a personalised gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day”, and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
Watch Your Language.
Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessedness, fortune, and abundance. Don’t focus on how inherently good you are but on the good others have done on your behalf.
Go Through the Motions
Grateful motions include smiling, saying “thank you”, and writing letters of gratitude. By “going through grateful motions”, you’ll trigger the emotion of gratitude more often.
Think Outside the Box.
If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscle, look creatively for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful.
Moziak recommends: The Power of Gratitude by Ethen James Carrell