Why Gratitude is Good for You – The Best Medicine in Tough Times.

Written by Tina Popadak


Is Gratitude also the root of happiness?

How does gratitude feel in practice?

In theory, it sounds easy.

Gratitude is ‘a feeling of thankfulness for where one is currently at and what one currently has’.

It is easy to understand, but harder to apply in real life. I have been learning to be grateful for so long and still I forget at times. Mostly during the times of insecurity. Whether it’s a job, finances, material possessions, the list goes on and on.

It’s a nasty human condition, the desire to have more and more. You want your first expensive shoes, you earn them, you get them, you use them.

Then you find another super cool item you ‘need to have’. You live in a shared apartment, have good flatmates, years go on. But now you need more privacy and your own apartment.

. . .

You get the feeling. Always asking – what is next?

Car, pool, television, phone, watches, vacations, more vacations, dinners out, drinking out, enjoying, spending, having?

There is always the opportunity to get more. When we have a hard time acquiring things or experiences that we desire, we struggle and feel unaccomplished or unhappy.

Photo by cottonbro

Stop and reflect.

Every day, stop for a moment and reflect on what you already have and the journey you have already gone through to get where you are. Is it not already enough? Did you not achieved what you dreamed of some years ago?

Upgrading and moving forward in life feels exciting, but do not underestimate the value and uniqueness of the present  and all its possessions just because you are impatience for better or more. 

Less is more because once you have more, you still want more. Find a way to stop your wanting for more, instead appreciate your current ‘less’, because this is real happiness.

Photo by Guilherme Almeida

Cultivating Gratitude

So how can you build your gratitude muscle—and become more thankful? Here are some simple strategies:

  • Bring intention to everything you do. Start your day by thinking about all that you appreciate and expect from the day. When you turn out the lights at the end of the day also consider all you’re grateful for. Start simple. I am always reminding myself how lucky am I to have all the energy and strength within my body.
  • Remind yourself throughout the day too. During each day, find small things about which you can be appreciative. Perhaps the line at the shop place was shorter this morning or your colleague made you smile. Avoid taking things these little things for granted. Every little thing in the day can remind you of all good that is out there.
  • Be grateful not just for things but also people and the environment. You might the headphones which help make your commute to work more fun, but also pay attention to the person at the coffee shop who made you feel welcome or the fact that you have the capability to walk, lift or stretch.
  • Journaling, journaling, journalingResearch at Kent State University found when you write down what you’re grateful for, that simple act can elevate happiness and well-being. I experienced, that this is true, probably because it makes you pause, focus, reflect and reinforce your positive experiences.

Gratitude has plenty of positive effects. Being present and attentive to others and appreciating all we have—just as we wait for all we want—can help us get to be smiling a little more along the long journey called life.