'We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.’ The Talmud
What is gratitude?
Robert Emmons, the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, says that gratitude has two key components to an affirmation of goodness.
“We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
In the second part of gratitude, he explains,
“We recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Why practice gratitude?
Over the past decade, hundreds of studies have documented the social, physical, and psychological benefits of gratitude. The research suggests these benefits are available to most anyone who practices gratitude, even in the midst of adversity.
Brings happiness: Through research by Emmons, practicing gratitude has proven to be one of the most reliable methods for increasing happiness and life satisfaction; it also boosts feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions.
Reduces anxiety and depression as it focuses on the positive not negative
Is good for our bodies: Studies suggest gratitude strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure, reduces symptoms of illness, and makes us less bothered by aches and pains. It also encourages us to exercise more and take better care of our health.
Grateful people sleep better: They get more hours of sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more refreshed upon awakening. If you want to sleep more soundly, count blessings, not sheep.
Makes us more resilient: It has been found to help people recover from traumatic events and through pain find the opportunity.
Strengthens relationships: It makes us feel closer and more committed to friends and romantic partners. When partners feel and express gratitude for each other, they each become more satisfied with their relationship. Gratitude may also encourage a more equitable division of labour between partners.
Gratitude makes us “pay it forward”: Grateful people are more helpful, altruistic, and compassionate.
Gratitude is good for kids: When 10-19 year olds practice gratitude, they report greater life satisfaction and more positive emotion, and they feel more connected to their community.
Gratitude is good for schools: Studies suggest it makes students feel better about their school; it also makes teachers feel more satisfied and accomplished, and less emotionally exhausted, possibly reducing teacher burnout.
How to bring gratitude into your life?
Decide that you are committed to trying it out (Experiment on yourself and give it 21 days to notice a difference)
Decide how you will be grateful each day:
Set a daily reminder on your phone: What am I grateful for today
Start a gratitude journal
Make a gratitude jar and add to it each day (A great family activity or even for your form or Class)
Take a moment before you eat to look at your food and notice what is in front of you and where it all came from
Start a WhatsApp gratitude group with friends/ family or colleagues (This is the best one for me, it makes me think each day about my gratitude and I get to read others…. Double impact)
Use a gratitude App:
I really like this article:
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things." Robert Brault
Written by Nikki Levitan and Nicki Cohen, JFS wellbeing practitioners