Gratitude is defined as a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation. Being grateful makes us aware of the good things in our lives and recent mental health studies are discovering the link between gratitude and what it can do for us – better sleep and better attitudes.
But are we thankful enough?
How many of us spend time considering how blessed we are? As we go through our sometimes mundane daily activities do we reflect on all the good things in our lives or do we take them for granted without much consideration at all? We’re guessing the latter. It’s easy to do - focusing on our to-do list, which never seems to shorten, or about the bills coming up.
Last year researchers discovered links to better sleep among grateful people. A study by a psychology professor published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being reported that writing in a gratitude journal for 15 minutes every evening helped students worry less at bedtime and sleep longer and better afterward.
Apparently when we focus on the good things in our lives, however minor they may seem, it gives us an overall feeling of well-being and happiness. No more glass half empty.
But it’s not just about being grateful in our head, we must express it as well. It’s nice to think about how lucky we are to live in a beautiful town, or happy that our children go to safe schools, but to really derive the benefits of a grateful life we should express it to others.
The people around us matter and it’s important for us to let them know that the cupcake they surprised us with on a rainy Monday afternoon meant something special to us.
We can be quickly reminded of the wonderful things in our lives when we see someone who doesn’t have the same things we do. We become conscious of being grateful for our parents when we see someone who lost theirs, or thankful for our vision when we know a blind person and the difficulties they face.
Many of us might not think of our jobs as something to be grateful for - of course in this economy maybe we do - but they give us the means to buy food to sustain us and shelter our families.
When faced with the question, “What are you thankful for?” we are easily reminded of the good things in our life - friends, family, laughter, or a place to call home - but we too should know that adversity is also a cause for gratitude. That enemy who helped us uncover our blind spots so we could become a better person, the boy who broke our heart in college but who ultimately helped us mature, and the plethora of mistakes that make up our lives and improved us along the way, all combine to form the great human experience called life. For that we should be grateful.
Although we may have ups and downs, trials and triumphs throughout our lives, there’s always something for which to be grateful.
Remember those things and you might just have a better night’s sleep tonight.