Question: It seems like we hear the word gratitude a lot these days, but what does it really mean?
Common ways to define gratitude are: Counting your blessings, looking at the bright side of things, appreciation, wonder and not taking things for granted.
Question: Are there benefits for expressing gratitude?
Recent research has found that people who consistently express gratitude are happier, more energetic, and appear to be more helpful and empathetic. The more a person in inclined to express gratitude, the less likely they are to be depressed, anxious and lonely.
Expressing gratitude can help with your self-esteem. When we realize what we have accomplished, you feel more confident. Most of us can rattle off 20 things we don’t like about ourselves, so practicing gratitude, can help us break this habit of negative self talk.
Expressing gratitude during tough times…like during loss or an illness can help you adjust, move on, or hopefully begin again with a different attitude. Practicing gratitude during the times that is especially hard to see the good, might be the most important thing we can do.
Acknowledging the things that we are grateful for is completely incompatible with negative emotions, and can help diminish feelings such as anger and bitterness.
Question: Can you tell me some ways to practice gratitude?
Gratitude journals can be effective, or thinking of five things you are grateful for every night before you go to bed. These do not have to be monumental things, but rather ordinary things that you take notice of…like how beautiful Pikes Peak looks with the snow on it and the clear blue sky outlining it, or the face that you were able to get through a joke and actually tell the punch line correctly.
When others are complaining, do not join in, but use that as a trigger to search out something you are thankful for.
Express your thankfulness for what others have done. Write them a note, e-mail, or call, or better yet, make it a point to be able to thank one person every day for something they have done.
If you or someone close to you is interested in becoming more grateful, please contact Penrose-St. Francis Women’s Behavioral Health Services at 634-1825.