“Being grateful all the time isn’t easy. But it’s when you least feel thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you: perspective. Gratitude can transform any situation. It alters your vibration, moving you from negative energy to positive. It’s the quickest, easiest most powerful way to effect change in your life — this I know for sure.”
– Oprah Winfrey
History of World Gratitude Day
The celebrations for World Gratitude Day began in 1965 in Hawaii at an International Conference. The attendees decided it would be a great idea to dedicate one day per year to formally express gratitude for the wonderful things in life. The following year in 1966, the attendees marked and celebrated Gratitude Day on 21st September in their own countries. The day has been celebrated ever since across the world.
The Cambridge Dictionary defines gratitude (n) as: a strong feeling of appreciation to someone or something for what the person has done to help you:
The word ‘Gratitude’ is derived from the Latin word; Gratus which means gratefulness or thankfulness. It is being in a state of thankfulness or gratefulness for all the gifts that we have. Simply put – It is counting our blessings every single day, every moment. Gratitude is a way of being and seeing things.
Gratitude is one of the most beautiful and powerful human emotions. It helps us appreciate what we have and turn it into enough. It puts our life – personal, professional and social in perspective, makes us happier, more joyful, cherish experiences, face adversity and heals us. Gratitude also keeps us in the miracle zone. Gratitude is also the antidote to poor mental health, depression, anxiety, fear and anger. Sending a simple thank you note, expressing gratitude for life, for Nature, for food, for clean running water, for technology, for friends, for family has immense benefits. It has the potential to turn your day around and in turn your life around. It takes a second – to say thank you for the beautiful spread of food – the flavours, the textures, the colours or thank you to a wonderful friend and support system or thank you for clean running water or technology that helps us stay connected and work.
Some of the benefits of gratitude include: Positive emotions and optimism, enhanced mood and sense of fulfilment, better self- esteem, selflessness, a sense of contentment, better self-image, lowers stress levels, and boosts the immune system, Empathy (towards self and others), improved interpersonal skills, better group dynamics and team work, enhanced communication
The amount of joy we feel and our ability to express gratitude are inter- connected.
When we express gratitude, our brain releases two neuro chemicals dopamine and serotonin, these two neuro chemicals are feel good emotions, they uplift our mood and instantly make us happy. This also helps us self-regulate and become more empathetic towards ourselves and others around us. A smile, kind and thoughtful words, appreciating others, complimenting someone, etc. all increase the dopamine and serotonin levels and sends a signal to brain to send out positive emotions and in turn increase joy.
One of the ways to cultivate joy is to appreciate yourself and show gratitude to yourself with both appearance and non-appearance related compliments such as; ‘I am beautiful, gorgeous, handsome, loyal, kind, resilient, enterprising’ etc. Say thank you to yourself for your innate strengths and qualities that empowers you work and transform other lives in turn.
Gratitude also helps build resilience by helping us focus on the positive things in life, appreciate and maintain those friendships and relationships that are there for us, no matter what and work towards a solution instead of resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms such as; blaming/projecting/scape-goating, regression, displacement and other immature and childish behaviours.
When we practice gratitude on a daily basis and have an optimistic and positive inner image, it reflects and radiates on the outside image. We are more kind, more empathetic in our interactions with others, we work better in groups, are a better team player and a joy to be around. As they say, good vibes attract good vibes. It changes the dynamics
Little things to be grateful for that are often taken for granted:
– Clean water and electricity
– Food at the table
– Opportunities and Connections
– Roof over our head
– Five amazing senses of touch, feel, see, hear, smell and taste
– Laughter and Smiles
– Access to transport
– Access to personal development resources
– Appreciation, Support and Love
Ways and Techniques to practice Gratitude
– Keep a gratitude journal
– Gratitude buddy
– Keep a gratitude jar
– Meditation/Guided Meditation
– Breathing exercises to stay in the present moment and acknowledge things to be grateful for
– Use a gratitude app
– Make a list of things that you are grateful to and for
– Send a gratitude note or card
– Practice self-care, self-love and show gratitude to your own self
There is a very popular story of a professor who came to class one day and told the students, there will be a surprise test today. The professor handed the question paper upside down as his usual practice and when the students turned it around and saw a black dot on the corner of the paper. The professor asked them to write about what they saw on the question paper. Every student wrote about the black dot, its placement on the paper, the size and shape of the black dot. No one wrote about the white paper and the blank canvas and the possibilities that exist.
Sometimes, the same goes for us in challenging times, we focus on the black dot because it is apparent, brighter and right there. Yes it is there to distract us from our objective, our course or our calling. It is temporary set-back, a rejection which is more like a redirection to our highest, truest purpose and potential. We have to bring our focus back to rest of the blank white paper which presents endless possibilities.