Why is gratitude good

Gratitude: The key to a fuller life

How often do you feel deep gratitude in your life? This does not mean the empty phrase "Thank you!" meant as an expression of politeness that we use quite often in everyday life - for example when we receive change in the supermarket or when a colleague forwards us a file. It's about the feeling that fills us when we become aware of the positive aspects in our life. But we are often focused on things that are currently not going so well or that we are still missing. Especially in the current situation of the pandemic, gratitude can serve as an anchor that helps us to cope with crises with a little more ease. In this article we would like to show you why this feeling is so important and how you, too, can integrate more gratitude into your everyday life.

Gratitude makes you happy

Gratitude is the appreciation for a material or immaterial gift or a condition. So we can be grateful when we receive a gift from someone. But a much more lasting sense of happiness promises in most cases gratitude for the immaterial. For example, we can be grateful for our family, for our health or that we live in a peaceful country. According to studies, gratitude can increase our personal happiness level by up to 25 percent and is said to work like an antidepressant even for mild to moderate depression. After all, it can help us to take a new perspective when facing problems and to acknowledge small and large things - regardless of whether we are simply grateful that the sun is shining today or grateful for overcoming a serious illness. Grateful people are not only happier, they also live healthier lives. The results of various studies show that gratitude can have positive effects on our sleep and our heart and can reduce headaches.

Gratitude is not to be equated with positive thinking and does not mean that we gloss over difficult situations. It's more about taking a closer look at life and seeing its good sides. Even if we are not always aware of it, we all have a lot to be thankful for. So far, we've only taken most of it for granted. The possibility that you can read this blog post and network with others through the internet is already something for which you can be very grateful.

Tips for more gratitude

Due to the natural way we look at our life, it can be difficult to feel gratitude on a regular basis in everyday life. Especially when our day is not going so well, negative thoughts usually have priority and everything revolves around the thing that is burdening us. The good news: Gratitude can be trained! There are many easy ways to do this that you can make a habit of that can help you feel better over the long term with the help of gratitude.

1. The gratitude diary

In a previous article we wrote about the positive effects of journaling. Writing down thoughts can help you reflect on yourself and become more mindful. The gratitude diary is about keeping the focus on the finer things in life. According to studies, keeping such a journal can improve mental health by reducing depression and anxiety, and increasing optimism and life satisfaction. In this book you write, preferably in the morning or in the evening, what you can be grateful for on this day. No matter how many negative things have happened, this is specifically about the positive. This is how it differs from a normal diary. You can ask yourself questions such as: "What made me happy today?", "What would I miss in my life if it were no longer there?" or “For which people am I thankful?”. Start with three things a day. After a while, you will probably think of more and more things, big and small, for which you are grateful. In moments when you are sad, your gratitude diary can be a support as it reminds you that not everything is bad.

2. The gratitude meditation

Mindfulness training is another scientifically proven method that is very well suited for feeling more gratitude. There are special forms of meditation that focus on this feeling. A gratitude meditation can even be easier for you than a classic meditation, because you don't have to let go of your thoughts: All you have to do is think of the things and people for which you are grateful. Take a few minutes to do this in an undisturbed place where you feel comfortable. Maybe even right after waking up in bed to start the day on a positive note. Then begin to visualize something beautiful and pleasant in your life. Then feel how your body feels afterwards. Where do you feel reactions in your body when you think of something good? Is it tingling in your stomach, is your chest wide or tight, or is it getting really warm? In the next step, say “thank you” to yourself inwardly. Thank you for all the beautiful things that you imagined. Feel now how it feels and how your body reacts to the gratitude. Repeat the exercise as often as you want. After this meditation you can also write in your gratitude diary and thus intensify the feeling. A good alternative is guided gratitude meditations, which can give you a structure for the meditation. In the free course “Self-Care” in the Mindance App, for example, you will find the exercise “Positive Anchoring of Emotions”, with which you can train the ability to focus on positive feelings.

3. Say thank you

Perhaps the most classic form of gratitude is to express it to other people. This not only strengthens the bond with others, but also creates feelings of happiness. Try to say thank you honestly more often when someone has done you good. We often take the friendly gestures of others for granted - we can give something back with deep gratitude. Your best friend lent you an open ear for an hour on the phone? Thank you from the bottom of my heart! With every thank you for expressing someone in your everyday life, you can try to empathize with yourself and actually perceive the feeling of gratitude rather than just saying it. The other person will probably notice the difference, because a conscious thank you is more authentic than a casually said thank you. A particularly nice variant is a handwritten letter in which you list everything that you value a person for. According to scientific findings from positive psychology, just writing such a letter without sending it off makes you happier!

At this point we would like to say thank you to our Mindance Community. We look forward to your great support and feedback! What are you grateful for? Let us know in the comments on Instagram.

Photo: Nadine on Unsplash