As we begin the new year, it is all too common to dive into new resolutions and goals for the year. If you haven’t already taken some time at the end of 2016 to practice some gratitude, now is a good time to start before bulldozing ahead for the new year.
Benefits of Gratitude
In fact, a Forbes article shows that there are 7 scientifically-proven benefits of gratitude:
- Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
- Gratitude improves physical health.
- Gratitude improves psychological health.
- Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
- Grateful people sleep better.
- Gratitude improves self-esteem.
- Gratitude increases mental strength.
Things to be Grateful For
There are many things that we take for granted that we can be grateful for. Here are some things that I’m grateful for:
- My God – I know not everyone shares my beliefs, but God has been faithful to me in both the good and the bad times. Sure, He scares me to hell a number of times too, but one thing good about Him is that He always comes through, though not always in expected ways.
- My Parents – We don’t always agree on things, and we can even quarrel fiercely. But at the end of it all, I’m glad to have parents who care for me, and always make sacrifices for me. That doesn’t mean we won’t have more disagreements in future; nonetheless I could perhaps be grateful that I have them around to disagree with.
- My Friends – When I was younger, I thought that I’d always have some of my closest friends with me. I was sometimes right, and often wrong. Many friends come and go, even those were extremely close at one point. Therefore, I treasure the old friends who are always there for me, and the new ones who are like kindred spirits to my own soul.
- My House and Job – Having a roof over my head, and having a job that provides a reasonable salary that sustains both me and my family.
- My Challenges – As much as I gripe the challenges I face, it is often my challenges that cause me to grow. I’ve always believed that every problem that comes our way can either be a stumbling block, or a stepping stone. It’s a matter of how we view it, and what we make of it.
“Everyone faces defeat. It may be a stepping stone or a stumbling block, depending on the mental attitude with which it is faced.” – Napolean Hill
If you are having a challenge thinking of things to be grateful for, here’s an article that may be useful: 100 things to be Grateful For
Many people practice gratitude as a form of introspection. Some even do it daily and keep a gratitude journal. If you don’t already do so, I highly recommend the practice of writing down just 3 things that you are grateful for each day before you sleep. This will help to tune your brain towards positive things before you rest and help you to become more mindful of things to be grateful for.
At the same time, the practice of gratitude must be acted upon.
Let people whom you are grateful for know how you feel. One of my parents’ love language is “Acts of Service”, so I drove my parents up to Melaka for a getaway and to visit my grandmother. Personal chauffeur service! My parents later told me that they appreciated what I did for them, and had I not come along, they would have taken a coach up. Which would mean missing out on plenty of shopping.
For my friends, I dropped some personalized text messages to groups (whatsapp groups are pretty handy here!) and individuals, just to share my thoughts and to let them know how thankful I am for them. I do that from time to time, which results in some of my friends thinking I’m pretty “emo” (the local colloquial term for ‘emotional’). I guess it is better to be “emo” and express it, than to feel it but hide it.
To demonstrate gratitude for things that I have, I try as much as possible to help others with my possessions. For example, by volunteering my time, donating my excess stuff, or doing something to make someone else’s life better with what I have.
How about you? What can you be grateful for? And how can you express your gratitude?
Make it a habit to tell people thank you. To express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you’ll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you’ll find that you have more of it.
– Ralph Marston