In life, there are lots of reasons to be thankful and grateful but while some people understand this and practice it, there are many others who are actually struggling with the whole concept. They ask questions like why should I be thankful or show gratitude? What should I be grateful for? And what if I am not thankful and grateful, does it affect me in any way? These are just among loads of other questions.
Being thankful or showing gratitude shouldn’t be a yearly practice but something everyone should make a part of their lives, in fact, it should be a way of life. If not for anything else at least for your health; this is because science has proven that gratitude and being grateful is actually good for your overall wellbeing. In case you have been struggling with ingratitude or don’t understand why you should be thankful or show gratitude, we rounded up reasons you should show appreciation and things to be grateful for.
Is There A Difference Between Being Grateful And Thankful?
The words gratitude and thankfulness are often used interchangeably as synonyms but there are actually different when studied closely. While thankfulness tends to be an automatic response to something someone has done and it often implies that you are acknowledging or appreciating someone for something that they have given you or done for you. Gratitude, on the other hand, is deeper than that; it goes beyond just being thankful; It is a state of being, where one feels a sense of appreciation that comes from deep within.
Psychology Today put it this way – it is an “emotion expressing appreciation for what one has as opposed to what one wants” and Harvard Medical School sums it up as a”thankful appreciation for what one receives—tangible or intangible—as they acknowledge the goodness in their lives”.
Should You Really Be Grateful For What You Have?
Gratitude is not just some concept developed by some religious people to appease the conscience or make people feel good but it’s a habit that has also been backed by science. researches. Studies have shown that being grateful impacts not just on your physical health but also your psychological, mental health, relationships, as well as general well being. So, yes, you should be grateful for the things you have.
Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Gratitude
Here are some scientifically proven health benefits of being grateful and thankful:
- Being Grateful Can Boost Your Relationship
Being grateful for your partner can improve numerous aspects of your relationship, including giving you that feeling of connectedness and overall satisfaction as a couple; this is according to a study in the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology
- Grateful People Are Patient People
Another benefit of gratitude is that it helps you become more patient. A study by Northeastern University revealed this. The investigation found out that those grateful for little, everyday things were more patient and better able to make sensible decisions than those who are less grateful.
- Gratitude Helps Keep Depression Away
Studies have also shown that those people who consciously count their blessings and are grateful for them tend to be happier and less depressed than those who don’t.
- Being Grateful Can Improve The Quality Of Your Sleep
Yes, you read that well, and research documented in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research says so. According to the analysis, feeling grateful helps people sleep better and longer. This is likely because “you have more positive thoughts before you go to sleep,” says Seppälä (who wasn’t involved in the study), which may soothe the nervous system. If you’re going to make a daily gratitude list, Seppälä recommends writing it before bed.
- Gratitude Improves Self-care
According to a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, people were asked to rate their levels of gratitude, physical health, and psychological health, as well as how likely they were to do wellbeing-boosting behaviors like exercise, healthy eating, and going to the doctor. The result was a positive correlation between gratitude and each of these behaviors, suggesting that giving thanks helps people appreciate and care for their bodies.
30 Things To Be Thankful For
Are you still confused about things to be grateful or thankful for? Here are thirty points to help you get started. The list is exhaustive but serves as a guideline to get you started.
Yeah, you should be thankful for being alive because no dead person can practice gratitude.
- Good Health
Being healthy is another reason to be thankful, surely you are familiar with the saying “health is wealth”, even if your health isn’t all that amazing, be thankful all the same; as mentioned above, gratitude has a way of impacting your health and helping you rejuvenate even faster.
There is nothing as beautiful as having a wonderful family, so, be thankful for that.
Good friends can’t be traded for anything else. Do you have good friends? be grateful for them.
Yeah, be grateful for that supportive husband, wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend.
- Your Home
Be grateful you have a place to call yours and it doesn’t matter where you have built this home. Be thankful for it.
Whether you are working for an organization, an individual, or you own your own business and working for yourself, be thankful you have a source of income.
It is actually a great privilege to love and be loved in return so, having people who love you and are willing to go all out for you is something to be thankful and grateful for.
- Your Children
Whether you have plenty of them or just one, having children of your own is something to be grateful for.
As little as this may sound, it is really something to show gratitude for. Some people hardly have clothes to cover up.
- Freedom of Speech
There are countries and states where citizens are not allowed to express their rights and thoughts freely, so, if you are in a place where your right to speak is not restricted, be thankful.
- Freedom of Movement
Be thankful you can move around freely without restrictions.
- Right to Vote
Yeah, you sure need to be thankful for this also if you have the privilege.
- Access to basic necessities
Having access to basic necessities like a good road, electricity, clean water, etc is something worth being thankful for.
- Food on the Table
Be grateful you are not starving; this is something to really be thankful about.
- Vacations and Holidays
That yearly vacation with your friends and family shouldn’t be taken for granted, be thankful for the opportunity.
- Your Pets and Animals
You should be thankful for those little friends that have practically become a part of your family.
- Learning from Your Mistakes
No matter how terrible you feel about making that mistake, if you look closely, you will see the lessons learned; so, be grateful for them, after all, we all make mistakes.
- Fresh Starts
Be grateful for the strength to begin again after a major set back.
For the countless opportunities that have come your way; opportunities to learn, earn, love, be loved, start again, etc, be grateful.
- Your Properties
Be grateful for the privilege of acquiring your first property or adding new assets to your list.
- New Stuff You Got
It could be a new phone, laptop, camera, equipment for your office or a new business, be thankful for them.
Being forgiven and learning to forgive gives an inexplicable feeling that you should be grateful for.
You can’t remain forever young; be grateful that you are successfully aging.
- Overcoming your Fear
Finally, you overcame that fear and moved on to achieve great heights, be thankful for that.
- Peace of Mind
Being at peace with yourself and the world and people around you is something you shouldn’t trade for anything in the world, so, if you enjoy peace of mind, be grateful for it.
- Healthy Children and Aged Parents
Not having to spend the whole month or years in the hospital looking after sick children or aged parents is worth being grateful for.
Be thankful for the good, loud, and hearty laughs.
Music is food to the soul; be grateful for good music and good musicians too.
- Technology and the internet
Be thankful for the internet and how technology has evolved over the year. It is the reason you just read this.
Why Some People Are Struggling With Ingratitude
Knowing the benefits of gratitude and the many things to be thankful for, why then do people find gratitude so hard to practice? Research suggests that there are three reasons you could be struggling with being grateful; the issue could be brain-related, genetic, or simply rooted in your personality.
A study by Michael Steger and colleagues suggests that ingratitude could be a genetic issue. The study in which identical and fraternal twins were used showed that identical twins who have the same DNA had more similar self-reported levels of gratitude than fraternal twins who shared only 50 percent of the same DNA; this apparently suggested that there may be a genetic component to gratitude.
Another study suggests that specific genes like CD38, involved in the secretion of the neuropeptide oxytocin can significantly affect the quality and frequency of expressions of gratitude towards a romantic partner in both the lab and regular daily life.
Research has also suggested that differences in brain structure and activity could be another reason for ingratitude. A study published by Oxford University Press in 2013, found that people who are more prone to gratitude have more gray matter in their right inferior temporal cortex, an area previously linked to interpreting other people’s intentions.
It doesn’t just end with the brain or genes, certain personality traits could also be undermining your gratitude abilities. For instance, envy, narcissism, cynicism materialism, can also be the reason for your ingratitude says Tsang, J.-A in a 2002 study.
If you are ready to begin practicing being thankful or grateful, a gratitude journal can actually help you get started. It is a very popular practice in positive psychology and also called counting your blessings. With a gratitude journal, you will be developing the habit of reflecting only on things you are grateful for each day and, documenting/recording them. By recording them in the journal, you are teaching your brain to focus and think more on the positive aspects of your life and to build up resilience against negative vibes.
Keeping a gratitude journal may not be that easy at the beginning but with determination, consistency, and hard work, it soon becomes a habit you can’t do without. Just like being grateful, keeping a gratitude journal has its own benefits too. Writing all that you are grateful for at the end of each day can make you fall asleep so easily with a very big smile on your face.