Why the power of gratitude raises your spirits

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not but rejoices for those which he has.” – Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher

If you’re not currently practising gratitude in your daily routine, you’re missing out on the untapped potential that could make you happier and lift your spirits.

It can be easy to fall into a negative mindset and forget to be grateful in our lives, taking everyday experiences for granted. Harvard Medical School describes gratitude as ‘a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives.’ Whether it’s showing our appreciation for others or carving out the time to be thankful for the experiences or moments in our life, gratitude is a powerful emotion you can harness for happiness.

By actively working on your appreciation, you can benefit from the power of gratitude. Psychologist Robert Emmons explains how gratitude not only makes us happier but how it also improves our performance at work. In fact, just the simple habit of keeping a gratitude journal can help you to feel the benefits.

Gratitude and your brain

Research in the field of positive psychology has shown that gratitude is one of the secret ingredients for improving our overall satisfaction with life, but why does it do this?  Here are five reasons why the simple act of remembering to say thank you has more benefits than just showing you have good manners.

Feel positive emotions

Gratitude is inherently positive, but it also increases our emotional awareness by adopting a positive mindset. Counting our blessings can improve our mental wellbeing and help to reduce stress and anxiety.

Actively practicing gratitude hones our ability to manage negative thoughts. It calls on our attention when working out emotions, enabling us to recognise the positive side of life. For example, feelings of boredom can transform into thankfulness for new opportunities when we look at the spare time we have through a grateful lens. It’s free time that we can use to try a new hobby or catch up with friends and family.

Practice compassion

Another benefit of gratitude is its ability to improve our empathy and consideration towards others. Whether it’s by being thankful for what others do for us and the sacrifices they make, or being grateful for having a roof over your head, it can be a rewarding experience. It also teaches us the importance of kind and loving behaviour towards others by showing our appreciation for how they impact our lives.

Build meaningful relationships

Going out of your way to say a simple ‘thank you’ to others and demonstrate that you’re grateful for them can strengthen our bonds and relationships. For example, it fosters trust with our partners by acknowledging the pivotal role they play in our life. If you’re going through a rough patch, going back to basics with gratitude can go a long way when looking for forgiveness and making amends.

Cultivate optimism

Always look on the bright side of life…

It might sound trite, but gratefulness focusses your attention on what you have, rather than what you don’t. Now, that’s not to say that aspiring for more is a bad thing, but think about yourself five years ago: did that person dream of achieving what you have? If so, recognising this is a great practice.

Improve self-esteem

Lastly, regularly taking the time to identify what we’re grateful for and how it affects our everyday life can boost our self-esteem. Those who are grateful feel better about themselves and uplifted by others. Gratitude is sometimes like a boomerang – when we show it to others, it often comes back to us, and this can be a good feeling.

So, the next time you’re thankful for something, remember that it’ll make you happy too.

Cultivating a happier you

With this course, expect to be your own agent of change, actively pursuing a happier life.

You’ll be encouraged to discover new or revisit past activities that you find enjoyable. You’ll be asked to live more authentically and set your own life goals and learn about how gratitude can raise your spirits. You’ll read how humour and laughter are great mood lifters and how to bring more of this into your life.