One of my personal favorite reggae songs about gratitude and giving thanks is Toast, courtesy of Grammy winner and international recording reggae artist Koffee. In her hit single and feel-good song, Koffee talks about her journey to stardom, acknowledges the people who contributed to her success along the way and shares her gratitude for all the many blessings she is experiencing. Giving thanks or expressing gratitude is one way of acknowledging the kindness and thoughtfulness of others, accepting help, motivating others as well as showing love, appreciation, and support. Expressing gratitude is also a sure way of boosting your mood (And that of others) and helping you push through life’s difficult and challenging moments.
Why is Gratitude Important?
According to Harvard Health, “gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible.” Feeling gratitude helps people to appreciate the goodness in their lives, and to recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As such, being grateful helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals- whether to other people, nature, or higher power. Additionally, research tells us that, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness (See previous post). Receiving and expressing gratitude also help people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
These powerful benefits of gratitude are not just limited to your personal life and can also extend to your environment at work According to Forbes, “People like to be valued at their jobs, with appreciation being one of the most sought-after forms of praise in the workplace. Showing appreciation to employees is not only motivating and encouraging, but it also contributes to job satisfaction, thereby resulting in better performance, reduced stress and burnout and less turnover. Expressing appreciation also builds trust and promotes employee engagement.”
Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude
For as long as I can remember, expressing gratitude has been a basic social grace and a huge part of what it means to be well-mannered and brought up. So crucial is this social grace that, children are taught to say thanks before they can even utter the words properly. And while this practice is an important part of the socialization process, practicing gratitude is equally important for adults. So lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude and just the importance of expressing thankfulness for all the ways I have been blessed, the health and well-being of my daughter and I, the family and friends I have in my life, the people and community I get to serve and influence, the varied opportunities available for me to use my gifts and talents and the list goes on.
And while it’s easy to gloss over our blessings and/or to take them for granted, we really shouldn’t. Because chances are, some of the very blessings we now enjoy (the career or job, health, finances, relationships) are things we all struggled to achieve and prayed earnestly for in another season. And for that alone, we should always give thanks. It is also important to remember that, feeling gratitude doesn’t mean that we ignore the hardships we are currently experiencing and all that is not going right in our personal and professional worlds.
Being thankful or feeling grateful simply means that that we are intentionally choosing a mindset that allows us to:
- Focus on the positive in every situation.
- Bounce back from challenges, fears, and obstacles.
- Simply appreciate and be content with what we have and where we are.
- Embrace the lesson we gain from painful experiences and find meaning.
- Adjust our perspectives and self-perceptions and learn more about ourselves.
- Cherish the memories of good times shared with others even when a relationship has been broken.
- Celebrate our small wins and every indicator of progress (Not just the big ones).
- Stop comparing ourselves and lives to others or holding ourselves hostage to our self-projected images and expectations of ourselves.
- Be present in the moment and take in the natural beauty and sounds around you.
- Still, yourself long enough to breathe, smile, feel your body and just be grateful that in this very moment you are alive.
5 Way to Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
In light of all the challenges you are currently facing, how can you practice an attitude of gratitude in this moment or this week? Here are five suggestions from Harvard Health that you can try:
- Write a thank- you -note: You can make yourself happier and nurture your relationship with another person by writing a thank-you letter or email expressing your enjoyment and appreciation of that person’s impact on your life. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Make a habit of sending at least one gratitude letter a month. Once in a while, write one to yourself.
- Thank Someone Mentally: No time to write? It may help just to think about someone who has done something nice for you, and mentally thank the individual.
- Keep a Gratitude Journal: Make it a habit to write down or share with a loved one thoughts about the gifts you’ve received each day.
- Count your blessings: Pick a time every week to sit down and write about your blessings — reflecting on what went right or what you are grateful for. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week. As you write, be specific and think about the sensations you felt when something good happened to you.
- Pray: People who are religious can use prayer to cultivate gratitude.
To help you flex your gratitude muscle, here is my gratitude challenge for you to do after you have read this article:
- Pause and reflect on 1 positive thing about your day.
- List 3 things you are things you are grateful for
- Call or text someone who you are grateful.
Finally, there is always something to be grateful for. Thankful people focus less on what they lack and more on what they do have. Practicing gratitude in your everyday life can also inspire others to be kind and more helpful and is essential for maintaining a happy and fulfilling life.
Until next time, Remember ItsALearning Life!