Written by: Brooke Byers, Placement Student, Social Service Worker (Diploma)
One of the most important factors to overall happiness and well-being is the amount of gratitude that a person experiences. Gratitude is noticing and appreciating the positives in your life. Gratitude is an attitude but also a practice.
Gratitude is found across different cultures and found throughout different populations. Gratitude is a virtue and is vastly different from optimism and hope. Mirgain and Singles state that the root of the word “gratitude” is the Latin root gratia, which means “grace, graciousness, or gratefulness… all derivatives from this Latin root having to do with kindness, generousness, gifts, the beauty of giving and receiving, or getting something for nothing.”
Benefits of Gratitude.
Research finds that gratitude can in fact improve a sense of personal well-being in 2 different ways, a direct cause and indirectly meaning, buffering against negative states and emotions. Experiencing gratitude, thankfulness and appreciation tends to foster positive feelings, which turns into overall well-being.
Self-reported physical health, more feelings of happiness, pride and hope, a greater sense of social connection and cooperation with others, feeling less lonely and isolated, helps maintain intimate bonds, increased motivation for self-improvement and positive change, reduction in risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders, improvement in body image, resilience in the face of trauma-induced stress, improvement of energy and sleep (Mirgain, Singles 2018), this is a list of psychological, physical and social benefits that’s gratitude has been linked to according to Mirgain.
Gratitude Exercises for Beginners.
Take a few minutes to reflect on a happy moment in your life that stands out for you—a memory that is still strong and has remained with you, even if it happened 10, 20, or 40 years ago. Re-experience it. Visualize the scene, hear the sounds that were around you, feel the sensations in your body. What was it about that experience that stays with you? Was gratitude part of it? What was happening that allowed you to feel grateful? (Mirgain, Singles, 2018)
We cannot change what life presents. We can, however, choose our attitude in any given circumstance. You can practice consciously choosing to cultivate gratitude with this daily practice: Practice stopping and having an attitude of gratitude throughout the day. You might incorporate a cue, like sitting down for a meal, hearing an alarm go off, or commuting home, to turn your mind to gratitude. Acknowledge and savor the positive experiences of your day. List a few cues you can use to remind you to stop and practice an attitude of gratitude. (Mirgain, Singles, 2018)
Mirgain, S. A., & Sinles, J. (2018). Creating a Gratitude Practice. Whole Health Library . Retrieved September 13, 2022, from https://www.va.gov/WHOLEHEALTHLIBRARY/docs/Creating-A-Gratitude-Practice.pdf