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The Power Of Gratitude

Do you focus on what you don't have or all the small things that bring you happiness?  If we are continually dissatisfied with our lot it can have an impact on our mental and physical health.  You can find out how in this article.

Here in the West we are living our lives in a way that was unimaginable 50 years ago

  • We can travel to places previous generations didn’t even know about
  • We have the availability of a wide variety of foods which were previously considered exotic
  • There are several take-aways on every high street. We can order a meal without leaving the comfort of our homes
  • We can be entertained 24/7
  • We are instantly connected to people everywhere
  • We live in homes with amenities that were hitherto undreamed of

YET WE HAVE NEVER BEEN SO DEPRESSED!

The lockdowns because of Covid-19 caused many people to feel deprived.  They were accustomed to receiving what they want when they wanted it.
So were not feeling particularly grateful or pleased to have it.

I wonder how many people have changed their attitude now that restrictions have lifted?

THE LOST ART OF GRATITUDE

Have people in western industrialized countries forgotten how to be grateful?
Victor Frankl was imprisoned for years in concentration camps.
Surviving under constant threat of death a day could be 'made right' by a split-second glimpse of a sunset through prison bars.

I WANT!

My elderly neighbour was unable to leave her home for the duration of the first lockdown.
She said that all she needed to be happy was to be grateful for 3 things:-

  • having enough food to eat
  • knowing that her kind neighbours were there for her
  • and being warm and cosy in her home

I have never heard a young person say anything like this!

DEPRESSED SOCIETY

Rates of depression have risen by around 1000% in the last fifty five years. Much of this seems to be to do with social changes. Being depressed, of course, isn't just a matter of not knowing how to appreciate what you have and instead focusing on what you don't have.
A capacity for gratitude does seem to offer some protection from depression.

Researchers constantly re-iterate that happiness is not achieved through:-

'getting what you want' (or what you think you want)
or having major positive life experiences
but rather through enjoying and appreciating lots of the small elements in life. And being grateful for them.

We've all been conditioned to feel we should expect:-

  • to live a certain way
  • look a certain way
  • and have certain things

and if we don't then we should be dissatisfied.

Dissatisfaction is a great motivator. It can move us to make efforts.
But dissatisfaction without action or personal effort leads to bitterness and petulance.

So many of us strive for and feel validated by having certain material things. Yet few of us strive for certain immaterial qualities. such as:-

Fortitude
Perseverance
Courage
and Decency

All those old fashioned qualities that appear to have been lost.

Turning to outside stimulation to bring us happiness is transitory. Satisfaction arises from developing inner capacities.

Striving towards a goal with determination and effort
Not through simply buying something.

The media promotes dissatisfaction (and therefore ingratitude). This is so that the materialistic society is maintained. And consumers continue to consume.

BENEFITS OF GRATITUDE

Two research psychologists, Dr Michael McCollough and Dr Robert Emmons, compiled a scientific report on the effects of gratitude on mental health and wellbeing.

The study required seven hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries.

  • The first group kept a simple diary of events that occurred during the day
  • A second group recorded their unpleasant experiences of the day
  • and the third group made a daily list of things they were grateful for from that day.
    This last group were to literally 'count their blessings'.

The results of the study showed that:-

Gratitude exercises resulted in increased alertness, enthusiasm, optimism and energy.

The gratitude group experienced:-

  • less depression
  • exercised more regularly
  • and made more progress towards personal goals.

According to these research findings, people who feel gratitude are more likely to feel loved and respected than the non-grateful. They also showed greater immune function and less physical illness!

We don't need more and more things!  We need to know how to enjoy what we have. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive for things in life.

We should understand that putting in effort, overcoming lack and enjoying the small along with the large benefits is what makes us happier and more contented.

START TODAY

Before you retire for the night list 5 things that you are grateful for that you didn't have to pay for.  Make gratitude a habit!

 

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