The Importance and Benefits of Gratitude
2020 has turned out to be a year no one ever imagined. The Covid-19 Pandemic has turned our lives upside down. We have no idea when or if our lives will ever get back to where they were prior to Covid-19.
Who would have thought we would be restricted on where we could go? We also never imagined we would have to wear a face mask inside a building and we would be urged not to get near other people.
As this pandemic has taken hold of our country and the world, some have decided to stay at home almost all of the time. That is the only place they can guarantee their safety from the virus. They have not seen others in quite some time.
Others feel their rights are being infringed on and don’t follow the guidelines. They refuse to let the virus restrict their lifestyle. They don’t wear masks nor do they social distance.
Are either one of these the best way to live?
Regardless of who you are, this pandemic has given you far more time to be by yourself. You probably have spent much more time thinking than you ever have. The question is what have you been thinking about.
You may never have thought about gratitude nor how you might benefit from being grateful. Let’s look at that.
Let’s start by reflecting on what gratitude is.
In 2011, there was an article, In Praise of Gratitude, in the Harvard Mental Health Letter. This article was updated on June 5, 2019. At the start of this article, it says this about gratitude:
“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”
What really strikes home for me is gratitude is gratefulness for the good things in our lives that we have no control over. It could be something as small as a person holding a door open for us or as large as that gift we received that we never expected.
You may be wondering if you can benefit by being grateful. Here are a few ways:
- Your life will be more positive.
- You will be healthier and happier.
- Your relationships will improve.
- Bad experiences won’t have as negative an impact on you.
- Your energy levels will be higher.
- There will be less stress in your life
- You will be able to relax and enjoy life more fully.
If gratitude can have all of these benefits for us, why aren’t we more grateful? The answer is simple. We are never told about the benefits.
How Do We Practice Being Grateful and Show Gratitude?
Over the years, much has been written on this.
There is a person in our local community who regularly tells people how to practice gratitude.
If you have ever listened to radio station, WOKI, or watched WBRI, Chanel 10, you probably are familiar with Hallerin Hilton Hill. He has a show from 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays on WOKI and a television show, Anything Is Possible, on weekends on WBIR.
Hallerin is a powerful force in our local community. On his radio show, Hallerin regularly reminds his listeners:
“Welcome to this brand new day. This day has never been lived before. It’s a blank canvas. If you will it so, it can be your masterpiece. Think of three things for which you’re grateful and then get out there and live this day with all the joy wonder and enthusiasm you can muster!”
Right there Hallerin is suggesting to you one way to have gratitude in your life. Think of three things you’re grateful for every day.
Some people recommend having a Gratitude journal. They suggest recording things in your journal you are grateful for. Most recommend you do this daily. Many say the best time to do this is right after you get up. One benefit from doing this is it sets the tone for you to have a positive day.
I have to admit a Gratitude journal is tough for me. I have never been consistent about following through with writing in any type of journal, let alone, a gratitude journal. Over the years, I have started to write in a journal many times only to stop a short time later.
Other people recommend ways you can show gratitude other than keeping a journal. Here are some:
- Look for what you have to be grateful for in every challenge you face.
- Help others. When you do that, you find yourself grateful you do not have the problems they are experiencing.
- Spend time with your loved ones and friends. Really listen to them and understand what is going on in their lives and how they’re feeling.
- Send a note or write a letter thanking another for something they have done for you.
- Focus on the good rather than the bad.
- Be on the lookout for things to be grateful for each day.
- Think about what your life would have been like if some positive event did not happen. For example, what if you never met your spouse? What if you didn’t have that job you have or had? What if you never lived where you live?
While I probably will never have my own Gratitude journal, I have been doing what Hallerin and the others suggest. That has led me to look at this Covid-19 pandemic differently. Covid-19 doesn’t paralyze me. It also has not made me pretend it does not exist and cannot have an impact on me.
I do not confine myself to my home. I wear a mask when I go into buildings. I try to separate myself from others. I wash my hands more frequently than I ever have in my life.
I have come to realize by doing these things, I am protecting myself as best I can. My life is more positive. I am happier. There is less stress in my life even though there are a high number of Covid-19 cases in Knox County.
What about you?
What Will You Experience if You Practice Being More Grateful?
If you are one of those who has quarantined in your home and have isolated from everyone else, you may be feeling lonely. Your anxiety may have increased. You may also be a little depressed. By being grateful, you will find your attitude changing. Your isolation will have less of an impact on you. That anxiety and depression will decrease.
If you are one of those who feel your rights have been infringed on and refuse to wear masks and social distance, you might realize the County Health Department is trying to safeguard your health. Be grateful for that. In the process, your attitude may change.
This Covid-19 pandemic has caused havoc for all of us. If we give in to it, we are going to come out weaker than we were before. I am sure that is not what we want. Our goal should be to come out stronger than we were before it happened. Being grateful regularly will help us.
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