What is gratitude? What does it mean?
And more importantly – how does the word gratitude make you feel?
I just grabbed my standard dictionary and it defines gratitude as “being grateful for favours received”.
I want you to forget about that definition because in truth, it is NOT about thanking for receiving. If that was the case, then that means that we should only be grateful when we receive something. A nice present, good news, a good parking spot.
What about when you have a bad day? Your hair isn’t quite right today, or you spilled your tea or broke a mug, got late for work… These are bad things we receive. Should we be ungrateful for these things?
That’s life, bad things happen – we get the good and the bad. The bad is a lesson learnt, it happened for a reason, the universe was sending you a message.
Being Grateful For the Bad Stuff…
I like to think of bad things I receive, as warnings. A bad thing happened, which means I learnt what to do next time in the same or similar situation. If this little bad thing didn’t happen, and next time it was an even bigger situation, then without my warning and previous lesson, I wouldn’t have learnt to avoid this big situation or make a wise choice and this bad situation could have had a negative effect on my life.
However bad you think things are, the only way is up and it’s a teaching.
How does gratitude come into all this?
You should be grateful for EVERYTHING you have. Even if you think that you don’t have a lot – a thought that might come from comparing yourself or your situation to others. Scrap that.
Don’t worry about other, just do you. I want you to know that your life is special, because nobody in the whole world has a life, memories or things to be grateful for like YOU.
Grateful isn’t about being grateful for receiving at all. It is about being grateful for what you have. The universe sends you signs for things to be grateful for. Sometimes yes, that can come in gift forms.
The point is that you should practice gratitude without expecting to be constantly showered with gifts or receiving things. You should be grateful for a nice weather for example, or that the dinner you cooked turned out nice or simply that you had a good day without anything going majorly wrong.
Be grateful for your partner, friends, anything that comes to life.
Things To Be Grateful For
Generally, what you are grateful for might be pretty specific to you and your situation/life. We will all find different things to be grateful for, because we are all different as human beings. Different things make us happy and angry, but generally kind, positive and happy things are what we tend to be grateful for.
It can be hard starting out to practice gratitude. Like anything new you’re trying, sometimes you just need a little push and a good spot to start you off and you can keep rolling from that point.
As a general guidance, and based on my personal gratitude practice, here are some things to be grateful for:
- A good night’s sleep
- Nice food (breakfast, dinner, take-away etc)
- Your partner
- A loyal friend
- A productive day you’ve had
- That you finally managed to do a workout session
- Your car is in a working condition
- Your bills are paid
- You have a roof over your head
- How far you’ve come in life overcoming hurdles and obstacles
- The memories you made and can now look back on
- A great job/career
Looking at the list, hardly any of those aspects are things you would “receive”. For that reason, the dictionary’s definition certainly needs to be revised and quite frankly, changed. If anything, the dictionary is teaching us and our generations, that we should only be thankful for things we receive or are about to get, rather than what we already have.
Should we be dissatisfied with our lives because we haven’t received anything in a while? NO!
Be grateful for it all, I am telling you – it will change your whole perspective on life.
Why Gratitude Is Important
Being grateful can actually make you a happier person. Honestly, ever since I stared practicing gratitude, I found that my life now is a happier, more fulfilling and a cherished one. I wake up full of hope and almost excitement to find things to be grateful for that day and what will the day bring kinda thoughts.
I used to walk around grumpy, like all the time, resenting the world around me and the people that seemed to have everything perfect and sorted out in their lives. Why couldn’t that be me? Why couldn’t my life look like theirs?
I fell into the trap of comparing my life to others – and this is a seriously bad habit. I cannot stress enough how bad of a habit this is.
Social media doesn’t help either, we see people being happy, living in their well-designed and expensive homes, eating and drinking expensive stuff, while you’re munching on a pasty in your lunch break room.
The comparison would be a pretty daunting one. That’s why you shouldn’t do it to yourself.
What you SHOULD do, is be grateful for what you have.
The universe has a very special and unique algorithm for rewarding people that are grateful. People who say and think nice things – nice vibrations attract the universe’s positive energy towards you, and it goes up and up the more you do it.
So don’t be shy, practice gratitude for 2 weeks and see how your life and outlook on life changes. Your daily routine will feel like a new one, or it’ll go away completely.
How To Practice Being Grateful
Every new habit is hard to introduce, no matter what it is – whether you want to exercise more or write more or cook more healthily, when you’re used to doing things a certain way and having a certain routine, breaking that cycle can be challenging and often overwhelming.
Bringing gratitude into your routine is not that big of a step, so do not worry too much – it’s actually a simple process.
To practice gratitude, you’ll need:
- A pen
- Things to be grateful for
I would recommend placing your pen and paper (this can be a notebook or a journal), next to your bed.
As you get into bed, or you start to prepare for bedtime, write down 3 things you are grateful for.
They can be little things (nice weather) or the bigger picture stuff (a loving relationship).
As you write them down, this will be (or should be) the things you’re thinking about as you’re falling asleep. Naturally our mind might drift off to things like “have I remembered to tell my boss about the changes in an account of a big client that was fussy?” Or “have I remembered to send an email to x, y, z…”.
Try to release and gently let go of those thoughts because let’s face it, it’s not like you can check this while you’re in bed and you probably already did those things, it’s just your mind playing tricks and increasing your adrenaline levels for no reason, making it harder to fall asleep.
Try to go back to your 3 gratitude things and fall asleep grateful for them.
You can try it with your partner too if that makes it easier and more encouraging! If one of you forgets, the other will remind you to do you gratitude practice, and you can share what you are grateful for at the end of each day, as you get into bed.
Ben and I do this quite often, we try to do it every night but we get so tired some days that it can be hard sometimes! We’re only human…
Can Gratitude Cure Depression?
There’s no evidence to suggest that it cures depression, however, being grateful generally makes us happy. There is also a study that found, that those people who focus on thing they’re grateful for, tend to be happier. If by being grateful we can be happier, drifting those negative thoughts away and by focusing things we’re grateful for, it can lift our mood and eventually make us happier in the long run.
Give it a try!
Our final note to you:
The world is a beautiful place and the fact that you’re here is already a special miracle. Treasure that and be greateful for it.