While it may not be the easiest feeling to put into words, everyone knows what it is to be grateful.
It’s that profound sense of happiness that comes once you realize something has truly gone your way in life. It’s a joyous feeling but also a serene one, a gentle warmth emanating from within.
Gratefulness (or gratitude) is also an incredibly potent feeling. Not only does this refer to your emotional wellbeing, but also to a number of outward traits such as your physical health. Science has proven this, and we’ll take a quick look at it later on.
What’s even better is that feeling grateful is something you can learn and practice! This means you can make a conscious effort to feel more grateful on a regular basis.
This article will show you how and why this monumentally important feeling can impact your life.
What’s The Definition Of Grateful?
One of the ways we can define the term grateful is being appreciative of the benefits you’ve received. It’s a simple explanation, but it covers the basics. The fundamental premise is there – something good has happened to you and you appreciate it.
Of course, these “benefits” can take many forms. It can be something that’s happened recently, but you also can (and should) be grateful for your overall life and the sum of the events which have led you here.
You can even be grateful for the bad things that have happened. Negative experiences are tough to get through but they do shape our journey. And they’re just as important as good stuff.
What’s a good synonym for grateful?
There are many words that can be used as synonyms for the word grateful. But the very first term that will probably come to mind is: thankful.
At first glance, these two words may look like simple synonyms. But if we scratch beneath the surface, there’s more going on.
Is there a difference between grateful and thankful?
It is not uncommon to see these two words used interchangeably. And even though they’re quite similar, there are a few key differences to keep in mind.
Thankfulness is more about the act of expressing your appreciation. It can also be limited in duration and may not carry a truly profound connection. You can think of it as a type of social norm.
Let’s illustrate it with an example – you’re coming home from the store and you’re trying to carry a dozen bags. A stranger notices this and holds the door open for you. Naturally, you thank them.
This is thankfulness – you’ve received a benefit, appreciated it, and expressed that appreciation. But, that is where it ends, and you likely won’t remember that person two months from now.
On the other hand, gratitude entails a much deeper bond. It’s the knowledge that someone or something has truly impacted your life in a significant way and it’s a feeling that stays with you. It happens when you quietly sit next to a loved one and appreciate just how better your life is because they’re in it.
Of course, you can express your gratitude through words and actions and absolutely should do this as often as possible. But the core of this practice is an internal and enduring sensation.
5 Benefits Of Being Grateful (As Proven By Science)
It’s clear that being grateful is a wonderful personality trait, and we’ll discuss this shortly.
But there are real and tangible benefits to gratitude that have been studied and proven by science.
Researchers have been exploring this area extensively, and studies have shown that those who practice gratitude experience numerous benefits because of it. Some of these benefits are:
- Better physical health
- Better psychological health
- Less aggression and more empathy
- Better sleep patterns
- Higher self-esteem
Building Character By Practicing Gratefulness
Good character happens when we turn virtues into habits.
— Jon Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest
You can make a dedicated effort to improve your life by injecting more gratefulness into it.
In other words, there is no big secret behind learning how to be more grateful – you identify what elicits this emotion in you and then repeat it over and over.
In essence, make a daily ritual out of it. For example, this can be the first thing you do when you wake up.
Or, you can set aside some time before you go to bed and let the last thoughts that go through your mind before falling asleep be those of gratefulness. Another popular technique is to keep a gratitude journal.
What Should You Be Grateful For?
I have my morning habit which is to get in a state of gratitude, of presence.
— Missy Butcher, Author of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest
We’ve already said that you can be grateful for both the good and the bad. It’s just a matter of perspective.
The good things
This is the easy one. When things go your way, it is important to take the time and make the effort to be grateful for them. Otherwise, you will not appreciate them to the fullest.
Gratefulness will also keep you modest and stop you from taking important people and events for granted.
The bad things
Being grateful for what’s good is simple enough. But what about the times when life throws difficulties your way?
Consider a mundane example – you’re stuck in traffic or in a line that only seems to be getting longer as time passes. You immediately start to feel frustrated – and that’s normal.
But, these moments are also opportunities to practice how to deal with stress.
Think of it this way – by being stuck in traffic now, you have the chance to learn how to deal with such situations in the future. It’s an opportunity to grow and improve your habits of mind. And that is something to be grateful for.
When people think about the virtues they’d like to embody, they often arrive at gratefulness. And it’s easy to see why.
For one, it will enrich your spirit and promote happiness. But, it will also do the same for those around you, because even if you don’t express it outwardly every single time, your loved ones will know how grateful you are – and that feeling is contagious.
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What are you grateful for? Share it with us in the comments.