The Power of Gratitude
While gratitude could be considered a part of our mindset, mental habits, or even a personal strength, we still decided to give it a pillar of its own within “12 pillars of happiness”.
Why did gratitude deserve such a special place?
Because gratitude is what we would call a “shortcut to happiness” – in many cases, it is the easiest and quickest way to boost our happiness, simply by opening our eyes to all the amazing things that we already have in our life, but have simply forgotten to appreciate and admire.
Why don’t we all use this shortcut? Our brain is too good at adjusting to all the good things that we have. It always looks for efficiency, and it is more efficient for the brain itself not to spend energy on appreciation and thinking about all the good stuff that we achieved and created already. Yet, focusing on efficiency, we waste the opportunity for more happiness and flourishing.
There are two ways to explore gratitude: building more awareness, noticing and paying attention to all the positive things in life, and showing appreciation for those things – even the small things that other people may simply take for granted.
People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past (retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of past blessings), the present (not taking good fortune for granted as it comes), and the future (maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude).
Grateful individuals appreciate others’ contributions to their well-being, appreciate simple pleasures (in other words, pleasurable things that are freely available to the majority of people), and acknowledge the important role of experiencing and expressing gratitude.
The important thing to keep in mind when building up one’s gratitude is that in most interventions and studies the “boost” to one’s wellbeing as a consequence of strengthening gratitude did not emerge immediately, but is gradually accrued over time.
This makes gratitude a very powerful “tool” because many other wellbeing-related studies suggest that the mental health benefits of positive activities often decrease rather than increase over time.
Looking for more specific actions and tips on how to strengthen each of the pillars?
Join the Happiness Academy free 12 lessons email course “Strengthen your pillars of happiness“.
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If you wish to reflect on this topic a bit deeper, check this beautiful TED talk – “Want to be happy? Be grateful” by David Steindl-Rast.
The best thing about gratitude?
It is so simple, easy, and straightforward to work on boosting one’s gratitude. Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, gratitude is a quality that one can successfully strengthen and cultivate. It is as simple as getting in the habit of daily asking ourselves the question – “What can I be grateful for today?”