Practicing gratitude on a daily base will change the way you look at things and as a result, put your life into perspective. Sometimes we get upset about the smallest things, but when we start realizing the things we can be grateful for, our attitude tends to shift. For the simple reason, it’s pretty damn hard to be grateful and unhappy at the same time. Practicing gratitude has numerous benefits, like enhanced positivity and less stress. However, it can be a challenge to structurally implement.
Gratitude shifts our negative bias
Looking at life through our own eyes is pretty subjective. We tend to make the problems we face really big. Traffic jams and bad weather can ruin our days. This is how we’re evolved. From a biological standpoint, we’re designed to be aware of negative circumstances as it helped our ancestors survive. When we lived in the wild as cavemen and -women we were attuned to attacks from other animals. In today’s sophisticated world, it’s not a necessity to run from predators! However, what remains within us is an evolutionary imprint called the negativity bias (a negative default). That’s the reason we give a lot more weight to negative events in our lives than the positive ones. While this negativity bias may serve us in situations related to survival, it will cause unnecessary negativity in today’s world. For most of us, it doesn’t come natural to focus on the things we’re grateful for, if we also can complain about the weather or a traffic jam. This is how we are wired! That being said, with structural practice we can experience the benefits of gratitude.
How to practice gratitude?
Most of us experience glimpses of gratitude throughout our days. When we receive a promotion or someone takes us out for dinner we experience natural feelings of gratitude. However, structurally implementing gratitude will take time and effort. We can’t occasionally go to the gym and expect to get ripped. The same counts for gratitude: we need to make it a habit and part of our lifestyle.
This requires 4 things:
Take at least 5 minutes a day to practice gratitude. Like me, you could make it part of your morning. I think about 3 things I’m grateful for. If you find it hard to think of reasons, check the next paragraph.
Your expression of gratitude needs to be real. Don’t say it because society makes you feel grateful for it. Feel grateful because you intrinsically feel so.
It’s easy to be grateful with a rational mind. However, if you put the emotion behind it, you’ll take the experience to a whole nother level. Feel grateful for things, as if you are living it (again). Writing down or speaking up about what you’re grateful for helps generate the emotion.
Being specific for what you’re grateful for helps generate more emotion. Rather than being grateful for all your relationships, be grateful for your partner, mother, father, etc.
Reasons to express gratitude
If you don’t know anything to be grateful for. Here are a few things that everyone should be grateful for:
1) You won the lottery to life
Being born on this earth is a lottery ticket and you won. The chance that your dad’s sperm connected with your mom’s egg and started producing you is a chance of 1 in 10^2,685,000. In other words: that’s a zero percent chance. You got a ticket to life, so make it count. Be fucking grateful for it. Everyday!
2) Your wealth and health and opportunities
If you are reading this you probably have a smartphone or pc. Most likely you live in a pretty safe environment and eat/drink every day. You can travel to almost every other country. And the medical care in your country is so good that the average life expectancy is around 80-120 years old. You live in an era of wealth, health, and endless opportunities. Remember that 1/3 of the world population lives on a dollar a day and many countries have 2/3 or less of the life expectancy that we have.
3) Your body
Your body is a machine that automatically takes care of you. When you get sick, it does everything to help you get better. We often take it for granted. But it’s really fascinating. Be grateful for every single part of your body that makes you live.
4) Your relationships
Even if you only have a few relationships in your life, be grateful for them. Don’t take them for granted. Every person in your life has or had something to offer.
The gratitude trap
This is probably not the first article you’ve read about the benefits of (expressing) gratitude. It’s a big theme today and a lot of content is been put out about it. I want to point out that gratitude should never be a reason to run away from negative emotions. Feeling and experiencing negative emotions is a good thing, it’s part of life! Using gratitude as an escape for going through the emotion is ’not experiencing life’ and doesn’t facilitate growth. However, practicing gratitude on a daily base will help you better deal with negative events and emotions. Because you’ll start putting your life into perspective.
THANK YOU for reading my articles!