Why gratitude matters: 6 benefits of practicing gratitude

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When was the last time you stopped and thought, “My God, I am so incredibly lucky.”?  When was the last time you felt true gratitude for those around you and the fortune in your life?

If you are reading this little article, you are at the top of the bell curve when it comes to blessing. It really is that simple. You have work or have worked in a field where you get to exercise your mind in creative and interesting ways. The impact you have on the world is measurable. You are in a place where you can work to make lives better.

Some days you feel down, and feel you have no impact. It is not true, every positive action moves the needle a little. The butterfly effect is real. You may not see it, but your actions have impact long after you have moved on. On those days, gratefulness is hard to swallow. It is hard to be thankful when you are hurting.

There are still reasons to be grateful.

Gratitude is a way out of a funk

Back in 2010 an article lead out that actions CAN proceed feelings. When you feel a little down, taking time to be thankful and look for the moments of appreciation may be the first step to getting back to making things better.

You choose you. You make you. You are able to start the gratitude attitude off by simply choosing to be thankful for the small stuff.

Gratitude keeps you humble

We all stand on the shoulders of giants. Your wins are never yours alone, neither are your losses.

There has been an article out this week about Rick, a rock star developer run amok. There are so many lessons in the story and failures at all levels. I worry about ever becoming a Rick. I’m a little prone to the hero complex or a responsibility complex. I know I can burn myself out. Having some humbleness helps me give credit where it is due and place focus on others.

The quickest path I have found to being humble is recognising the genuine brilliance around me. I am blessed by having people around me who are even more capable that I am in many things. Their strengths complement my own and no longer to I have to “do it by myself”. I can lean on others when I need and they on me.

My gratitude to them, allows me to recognise my shortcomings and work with my team to do great things together. Never me, us. I love it!

Gratitude will improve your environment

When you are thankful, the world you is always a little lighter. You will certainly feel happier.

The gratitude you project isn’t always reflected directly back to you, but people do notice. When you give heartfelt thanks and praise, you become more likable. People like spending time around you. So few people get the recognition they deserve. Your gratitude becomes an engine for improving the lives of those around you.

This has flow on effects.

When you speak you people will be more inclined to listen. The warmth you engender can directly result in influence. It is that, “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less”. Your positive influence can be an agent to drive change in you organisation. A little gratitude goes a long way.

Gratitude helps you be in the moment

Taking time out to count your blessings moves you to a space that is almost meditative. You slow down and relax for a moment. It triggers the release of endorphins. You feel better.

As a onetime thing, this doesn’t do much, but give you a little boost. As a practice that you start to incorporate into you life, you start looking for the things to be grateful for and you appreciate them when they come. You start being that little more present. You start being more mindful and less reactive.

Taking time to give thanks gives you space to choose your next course of action and analyse what to do next.

Gratitude helps you develop resilience

I have found that gratitude is a fantastic coping skill. When you can find things to be thankful for even in the darkest of situations, you can continue moving forward or when things seem so heavy, just stand.

The mechanics are fairly simple. When we can find things to be thankful for in others and see the kindnesses rendered we know we are not alone. If we can see the blessings in our circumstances, no matter how dark, we know things could be worse. It helps us stand up and keep standing.

A little light, can hold darkness at bay.

Gratitude helps you live longer

If you are mindful and living  in the present, you find happiness easier, people like you more, and you can stand up when others fall, you are also likely to live longer as well. In fact the Harvard Gazette recently published an article that suggests gratefulness may help you live longer.

Optimism is likely the key. Optimists live longer. When you can find the joy in life and see the best in situations and people, your outlook is more optimistic. It can all flow from a little gratitude.

The smell the roses challenge

If gratitude can have such a profound effect on us, why does it not get practiced? We get busy, we get stressed and unless we have built it into our way of life, we forget to slow down.

It can be hard to see the wood for the trees when you are running from bandits.

My real challenge to you, is to take a smell the roses challenge. Every day for the next week:

  • pick a time
  • set aside 3 minutes (you can go longer, but this will be enough)
  • write something worth being grateful for. It could be:
    • Something someone did or said
    • A person
    • A circumstance
    • A decision you were able to make
    • Anything else that blesses you
  • Be thankful for it

That is the challenge. Let me know how you go. I want to hear what you are grateful for in your lives and how you find gratitude in the hustle and bustle of life.

 

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Brad Stokes

I am at heart a developer. I've been participating in an agile environment for a little over a year and a half. I've done waterfall and never want to return. I'm always good for a chat and willing to look at the agile world with openness and honesty.

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