What is gratitude?
Gratitude can be understood and measured in both ‘trait’ and ‘state’ terms.
- Trait refers to a distinguished characteristic that is more or less stable over time and trait gratitude refers to the consistent feelings of gratitude people experience in life.
-On the other hand, state gratitude refers to the extent to which grateful emotions (gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation) are experienced on a given day.
While state gratitude might therefore depend on the events of a particular day, trait gratitude is a stable affective characteristic that is mostly unaffected by single events.
The benefits of practicing gratitude include:
-reduction in stress;
-increase in pleasant emotions;
-increase in self-control;
-increase in self-esteem;
-Increase in empathy;
-better quality of your sleep;
-reduction in depressive thoughts and rumination (excessively thinking of the same painful experience).
How does gratitude work?
According to Alkozei, Smith & Killgore (2018), gratitude can expand a person's ability to interpret negative or ambiguous situations more positively, having positive memories from the past and paying more attention to positive rather than negative stimuli; this then builds emotional and physical resources under stress, leading to better emotional health and a state of well-being.
Practicing gratitude also increases both the amount of social support offered and received, which has a positive impact on the quality of relationships. Such increases in well-being can lead to greater feelings of gratitude which increases the sense of positive emotions which increases the sense of gratitude even further, and so on and on creating a spiral effect.
How to practice gratitude?
-Reflect on past experiences. 🍃
What experience are you grateful for having?
Who is the person you’re grateful that you’ve met?
What is different in your life from last year that you’re grateful for?
What/Who made you smile today?
-Try to practice it in the now. 🌱
What are you grateful for at this moment?
When you look around, what are you grateful for?
Think about the person you feel thankful to - let them know.
-Think about your future from the lens of appreciation. 🌾
What would your future self be grateful to you for doing today?
What’s something you’re looking forward to in the future?
How can I help someone today or sometime soon?
Reframing your mind’s focus from what you have to do to what you get to do is a way to practice gratitude as well, so ask yourself - What do you get to do today?
To get into the habit of practicing gratitude, find a reminder that works for you. Be that a little rock you carry in your pocket that reminds you to think of what you’re grateful for, or a convenient prompting question via your Mindletic app, getting into the habit of expressing gratitude is the way of exercising your mind to focus on the things you value in life.