Showing gratitude seems like a no brainer. A simple ‘thanks’ seems like nothing out of the ordinary or even anything to think about. After all, anyone and anybody can utter words like like ‘Oh sorry,’ and ‘Thanks’. But a half-hearted show of gratitude can be easily detected, whereas, a sincere form of gratitude, the one that comes from the inside, will touch others and perhaps even renew hope in the rest. I’ve always thought that gratitude is a universally understood notion that is not always practiced by everyone. While I guess it is true that not everybody practices gratitude on a daily basis, the meaning of gratitude can actually vary from person to person. Many people think that gratitude is simply the state of being grateful. While being grateful IS the essence of gratitude, it can mean more than that. In Positive Psychology, the definition of gratitude delves deeper into the surface. It is not just simply feeling thankful/grateful. It also represents a deeper appreciation of the people and things around us, which is proven to produce a more permanent positive effect.
My favourite definition of gratitude comes from the Harvard Medical School, whereby it is defined by “a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives” and when “people acknowledges the goodness in their lives…As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power” (Harvard Medical School). Sometimes, the simplest form of gratitude can be overlooked. As mentioned above, it can be so easy to forget the importance of being thankful, or even to speak of it without much sincerity. But a genuine show of appreciation to others makes us feel good inside. It makes us feel more connected and valued as an individual when we receive thanks for our work and actions. Similarly, We feel warm and fuzzy underneath when we take initiative to help somebody in need. It’s a beautiful cycle that needs to be reiterated in our society. When we practice gratitude, we not only exude thankfulness for what is given to us, but we also acknowledge the goodness that is happening in our lives. For example, it may be your hobby. A simple act of gratitude can be genuine appreciation of the fact that your favourite singer is coming to town for a concert, or taking a hot warm shower while listening to your favourite album. When we get excited for things that we love, in a way, we are showing gratitude too, because we sincerely value the positive effects that it gives us. Gratitude doesn’t just make us thankful for the things we have, it allows us to be appreciative of other people and helps us connect to other things. In a way, it teaches us to be selfless and to not just think of ourselves.
Sometimes, it can be hard to show gratitude when you are stuck in an unfortunate situation. It may seem like the world is falling down on you, and can be even more unnerving when it feels like you are dealing with it alone. The bitterness starts to weigh in and the angst starts to spread. There is always somebody that seems better, but gratitude is about being contented with what one has. It may be hard, but remember, there is always someone struggling even more than you and is still fighting a tedious battle. Consistently showing authentic gratitude will elevate your mind-set and things will get better. You just have to try.