Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Importance of Gratitude

This post originally appeared on Have Your Health, a past blog of mine active from 2013-14.

When I was younger, my mother would always say to us four kids during dinner, "All right, two good things." And my siblings and I would go around the table, each required to tell two good things that had happened to us that day. It's just what we did.

Some days I loved it, excitedly sharing something neat that had happened at school. Other days if I were in a sour mood, I would grudgingly give a thoughtless answer. As we got older, moving into middle and high school, meals together became rare. Between the four of us kids we had jobs, music lessons, rehearsals, co-curricular events, and so on. So at some point, the "two good things" dinner routine stopped.

Writing Thank You Notes

Another "forced-gratitude" element of my childhood, if you will, was writing thank you notes. After every birthday, Christmas, and any other occasion in which we received a gift of any sort, we little ones had to write thank you notes to each and every giver.

At the time I did it because we had to, and it would get added to our chores list. If many days had passed since receiving the gifts, we probably couldn't watch TV until we finished writing those thank you notes, or something like that.

But now, I willingly and gladly write them, snail mail lover that I am. They're fun to make and decorate, and it simply feels great to express gratitude. I love putting that energy into the card or letter, knowing that it'll create even more good feelings when the recipient opens it.

Because of my upbringing, plus personal experiences since, I've learned that gratitude is so important to have and share. Here are a few reasons why:

The Many Benefits of Gratitude

  • Focusing on something positive, like what you're thankful for, makes you happier. It just does. So if you want to feel better? Appreciate what you've got.
  • Gratitude lowers your stress levels, making your body healthier and resulting in better sleep at night.
  • Focusing on gratitude shifts your mind, filling it with positive thoughts. This shift helps you solve problems and deal with others in a kinder way during the rest of your day.
  • The goodness of appreciative thoughts take up room in your mind, leaving less space for negative thoughts. There's a direct increase in self-esteem because of this.
  • Gratitude also strengthens your relationships. By honestly and openly telling your friends or significant others what you appreciate about them, you'll create positive emotions all around.
Have I convinced you yet? So what are some simple ways to add more gratitude into your life right now?
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