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Why is gratitude important, and how to practice it?

Derived from a Latin word, gratia, which meaning favor and gratus, meaning pleasing, several theological and philosophical scholars have studied the term gratitude to explain its meaning. However, even though several kinds of research demonstrated the role of Gratitude in maintaining our quality of life and well-being, this emotional mechanism remains unclear. This raises the question of what Gratitude means.

Gratitude is a sense of appreciation for being kind. It is a moral effect that is similar to other emotions such as guilt and empathy and can be approached in two ways;

  • It recognizes that one has been a beneficiary of another person’s kindness.
  • It recognizes that there is an external party in this positive emotion.

Gratitude is, therefore, affected by the personality and social factors of the people and their moral domains.

Importance of Gratitude.

Maintains and strengthens good relationships.

Feeling appreciated in a relationship plays a significant role in maintaining the relationship. This is done by being thankful for every act of kindness received from your partner or friend, which in return improves trust and brings about the feeling of respect and acknowledgment.

It improves mental health.

According to Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough in their 2003 paper, there are three main functions of Gratitude:

  • The moral barometer function entails the appreciation of another one’s good action.
  • The moral motive motivates the beneficiary of a goodwill act prosocially to the benefactor and other people.
  • The moral reinforces, when expressed, and encourages the benefactor to continue acting morally.

The three gratitude functions help reduce stress and depression, which shifts one’s attention to positive emotions and improves their mental state.

Increases optimism.

Gratitude makes one feel appreciated for their actions of kindness in return, and cultivates a feeling of satisfaction with oneself which brings about optimism. Of course, optimism comes along with plenty of health benefits like healthy aging.

How to practice Gratitude.

Gratitude mapping.

Gratitude mapping is a method that involves you creating a mood board that visualizes all the things you’re thankful for. You can then place the mood board anywhere you feel comfortable to help remind you to be grateful each day.

Gratitude Affirmations.      

Use affirmation words such as “I am thankful for” to practice the virtue of Gratitude. This is an excellent way of focusing on appreciation and building one’s self-esteem and love. There are several things one could be thankful for in our day-to-day lives. These include being grateful for having a loving and healthy family and being grateful for having good health.

Appreciate yourself.

To practice Gratitude, one has first to appreciate themselves for who they are. Then, one has to practice saying thank you to themselves in all situations and times. The best example is looking at yourself in the mirror each morning and patting yourself on the back for the person you see. You can only give Gratitude if you are first grateful to yourself.

Keep a gratitude journal.

Keeping a journal is a powerful technique that is similar to keeping a gratitude box/jar. You can practice this by developing a habit of writing down short notes in a diary or your phone of the things you are grateful for daily. You can start by recounting the best moments of the day and noting them down. It is the most incredible way to uplift your spirits anytime you feel stressed.

Compliment Other.

Compliments are a way of uplifting people’s souls or rather mood. Therefore, it would be helpful if you practiced giving sincere compliments to people each day.  For example, you could complement one’s looks by letting them know how nicely they have dressed or thanking them for their kind words and actions towards you or a third party. Such a move can ignite a feeling of respect, appreciation, and love for the benefactor and you as well.

Meditation.

It is vital to practice self-reflection at least once a day because it helps get your spirits high or gets you into the best mood for the day and helps you have a good night’s rest.

The most efficient way to meditate is to calmly sit in a quiet place and think of your life’s occurrences, both bad and good, to help examine the achievements you have had. Meditation enables you to be grateful for your life’s journey and the good you have achieved. It is recommended you carry out your gratitude meditations in the morning because it helps set you up for an optimistic outlook for the day.

Celebrating the Moments.

Always enjoy the good moments you live and be thankful for them. Spend a few minutes a day to enjoy and appreciate the beauty and ambiance nature provides, giving you a clear view of the beautiful creatures and moments you need to be grateful for.

Praying.

Prayer is the best way to express the feeling of Gratitude. Through praying, we get to sincerely express Gratitude for our lives, the assets we possess, our families, the gift of life, and many other good things in our lives. Prayer plays a significant role in teaching us the virtue of being thankful.

In a nutshell, Gratitude is a significant act or an emotion that brings out the good in people when expressed. You are free to try to practice the different ways of Gratitude to experience the goodness and benefits of it. However, I hope you try to practice a couple of the various forms of expressing Gratitude and get to discover the fulfillment that comes along with it.

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