The Importance of Gratitude

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It’s a Tuesday night, the Wi-Fi is struggling; I’ve had to refresh the internet about six times, and my eyes are doing a permanent roll. I actually believe it warrants a text to my best friend, “the Wi-Fi is slow again and I literally just can’t deal." If I had a paper due that night, or something that desperately needed to be turned in, maybe that complaint would be fair. But I don’t. I’m watching "The Office" and painting my nails. There is truly nothing that is fair about me complaining. God forbid, my apple laptop that was given to me by my mom in order to study at college, where I’m lucky enough to go out of state and have free time to watch Netflix, takes more than two minutes to load. The device that didn’t even exist 50 years ago isn’t working flawlessly! How can I stand for this mayhem!?

Maybe I’m alone in this, but something tells me it’s a fairly common situation. The things we take for granted are endless. The holidays are a beautiful time to get our priorities in check and take a moment to really appreciate all that we have. In fact, gratitude has been scientifically proven to increase happiness and reduce depressive symptoms. So its in your best interest to start practicing it daily. Research done by UC Davis psychologist’s showed that simply keeping a gratitude journal can improve your immune system, life satisfaction and even your quality of sleep.

Gratitude journals are one way to implement a practice of gratitude in your every day life. It helps reshape the way we view situations, instead of thinking “I’m stuck in traffic” you might think “I had an unexpected opportunity to listen to the new Taylor Swift album." The key to having a beneficial gratitude practice is implementing it daily. Practice makes perfect, right? The more we practice gratitude, the more we change the way we experience and interpret our lives.

Mental Contrasting is also an excellent way to practice gratitude. We often set goals and expect them to be implemented flawlessly; when that inevitably doesn’t happen, we blame ourselves. Mental contrasting is a technique that helps us to have a positive outlook on a new behavior while also remaining realistic about the difficulty of implementing that behavior. Blame can encourage willing thinking instead of willful thinking and prevent us from moving forward.

“I’m so grateful for you." How amazing does that feel to hear? When someone takes time out of their day to express their love and gratitude for you, it causes a snowball effect of positivity. The person expressing their gratitude will likely experience a boost in mood as will the receiver. Pay it forward, tell the people you love why you love them and why you're grateful. The more you change the way you think, the more you recognize how much there truly is to be thankful for.