Gratitude: A Key to Happiness
Positive Self Help

Gratitude: A Key to Happiness


Gratitude has been understood from multiple perspectives. According to the state view, gratitude can be defined as the state of thankfulness for all. That is important to an individual. From the trait perspective, it can be understood as the disposition of one toward being grateful and appreciative of all that is important and meaningful to an individual. Gratitude is also a fundamental concept of study and practice in the school of positive psychology.

In simple terms, gratitude simply means being thankful and appreciative of things, people and situations that are meaningful to you. If we look at it, gratitude includes two aspects: the feeling of being grateful and the expression of this gratitude. Therefore, the feeling of gratitude is expressed in some way and externalised.

Research on practising gratitude has shown its association with significantly higher levels of optimism, life satisfaction, self-esteem, and well-being. (Froh, Sefick and Emmons, 2008; Rash, Matsuba and Prkachin 2011)

These research findings encourage us to then adopt this idea of practising gratitude in our daily lives. The following are some of the few ways in which we can inculcate the practice of gratitude in our schedules to then reap the benefits.

Related: Gratitude and its Impact on Mental Health

What is Gratitude Journaling?

Journaling is a very commonly encouraged practice by counsellors and psychologists. It encourages mindfulness and provides an outlet for an individual to explore their feelings and put them into words. Gratitude journaling is just as widely encouraged. It involves keeping a journal where one notes down the things, they have been grateful for daily for that given day.

Gratitude journaling provides a very simple method where one is encouraged to look for things they often overlook but can be grateful for. Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of gratitude journaling. It can be done with the help of prompts.

Alternatively, one can spend 5 minutes at the end of each day where they review their day. They look for people, incidents, or things they feel grateful for and write them down in the journal. Journaling also provides them with something to look back on when they want to feel those emotions again.

A simple example of gratitude journaling would be: “Today, I felt grateful for my mother because she made me my favourite breakfast.” Or “I am grateful for today’s weather because I was able to walk to school and it was very refreshing.” Given the increased awareness, several small businesses now sell gratitude journals with prompts. This makes the process easier and even more enjoyable, especially for someone who may find it hard to maintain a journal.

Gratitude letter

A gratitude letter is a letter you write to someone for whom you are grateful. It can be a small letter just saying thank you or a longer one where you express your emotions more elaborately and thank the individual. The end goal is to convey your gratitude for someone on a piece of paper and give it to them.

This experience can be very rewarding because while putting it down on paper, you relive the entire experience. When you share joy and gratitude with someone, it makes you feel accepted and a part of something bigger. Writing a gratitude letter can be very beneficial for the writer as well as for the receiver as they feel acknowledged and appreciated.

Making this a habit can help you not only build on your gratitude but also your interpersonal relationships. One should write a gratitude letter to oneself once in a while as well so that one feels appreciated by themselves. It is just as important to reward yourself as anyone else.

Related: The Joy of Play: How Toys Boost Our Happy Feelings and Mind

Counting blessings

Counting blessings is a very effective tool to increase gratitude. There are often things in our lives that we overlook or are not grateful enough for. These things could be as tiny as the weather for the day. The taxi driver dropped you at the right place without any hassles. Your sibling who has always got your back. Your teacher who understood your concerns and let you leave a little early.

Counting these blessings regularly can make people realise just how many positive things there are in their life and how much they can be grateful for it. This activity of counting your blessings every other day or once a week where you reflect back and think of 5 things or so that you are grateful for is very simple, time-saving and just as effective as any other gratitude intervention.

It allows one to pursue a more optimistic outlook on life and acknowledge the positive. It also encourages one to take up such prosocial activities since one realises just how rewarding they can be

Three good things

Three Good Things is another common gratitude intervention where the individual is encouraged to note, preferably in writing, if not then mentally three good things that happened to them on the given day. This is a daily activity. One could write about anything that they thought was positive or good in their day such as “I helped a stranger with routes today”, “I made my favourite breakfast today” or “The stars were so bright and beautiful today.” Similar to the previous activity, three good things encourage an optimistic explanatory style and help one notice all the tiny good things that happen to them on a daily basis.

Related: 11 Effective Methods to Teach Children Good Habits

Gratitude rock

Gratitude rock is a rather interesting approach to gratitude where the individual uses a small rock or stone as a source to channelise their gratitude toward. Every morning or right before going to bed, one can hold onto this rock and mention something that they are grateful for. This way, the rock is associated with all the things one is grateful for and every time the individual sees it, it not only brings in a myriad of positive emotions but also encourages thoughts of gratitude them.

The above are the four most commonly used and the most easily applicable gratitude interventions that an individual can adopt into their lifestyle to live a more grateful and fulfilling life. If noticed, all these activities have a common theme which is acknowledging the positive and looking out and expressing the gratitude.

Today, several mobile applications and websites exist that help individuals include gratitude as part of their daily lives. Several companies and online businesses also sell gratitude journals, letters and journals with a three good things section. This helps in inculcating these habits more easily.

In conclusion, as I express my gratitude to you for taking this minute for yourself, I hope that you take away with you one exercise from the above-mentioned list. Add a gratitudinal lens to your perspective to life.

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