Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions that we humans can feel. It has the power to transform our outlook on the world, improve our relationships with loved ones, and bring so much more meaning to our lives. Keep reading to see how, plus check out some of my favorite gratitude quotes.
How An “Attitude of Gratitude” Can Totally Transform Our Lives
If you’re looking for truly meaningful New Year’s resolutions, consider putting “adopting an attitude of gratitude” at the top of that list. It truly can transform your entire life! How? I’m so glad you asked!
Below, I’m sharing some of the ways that it impacts everything from our relationships to our mental health and even our self-worth. As always, I’ve also sprinkled in some inspirational quotes about gratitude to reflect on (or even add to your journal as a reminder).
Gratitude gives us hope when times are tough
Did you know that a fairly recent study found that gratefulness plays a major part in keeping older people in Japan feeling hopeful and happy well into their golden years? Of all the elders that researchers spoke to, the most hopeful of all were those who held onto gratitude.
As researcher Dr. Kavedzija explains, “An attitude of gratitude was embedded in older peoples’ recollections of the past, but also allowed them to think about the present in a hopeful way. A world in which one has received much goodwill from others is a different place than one in which one has experienced loss, even if the facts of life are the same.”
Let me tell you a quick story to put this into context. A few years ago, a friend’s family lost their home and everything in it to a fire. They were absolutely devastated, and nothing can take that pain away entirely. But their gratitude for the outpouring of love that they received from their friends, family, and even strangers who heard about their story gave them the hope that they needed to get through it.
Bottom line: Gratitude helps us to be more resilient in the face of life’s challenges.
Feeling grateful helps us enjoy life more fully
This kind of goes along with the last one, but I wanted to talk about it a bit more. Since gratitude helps us find joy even in the darkest places, it gives us the tools we need to look at the world in a whole new way.
To put the quote above another way, we can either be sad that life lets so much pain come our way to ruin our joy, or we can be grateful that life throws so much joy our way to balance out the pain.
I’m not saying that being grateful will instantly make you a “glass half full” person, but it will help you flip situations around more easily to find the “silver lining.” Yes, I know, those are some mixed metaphors. You get my point though, right? The more you focus on being grateful, the more likely you are to become a positive person.
Being grateful helps root us in the here and now
Most of our anxiety comes not from the present, but from the past and future. We dwell on things that were or fret about what’s to come. If we choose to try to live a life of gratitude, though, we learn to look at all that this moment here and now has to offer.
Maybe yesterday you got into an argument with your mom. Tomorrow, you have a doctor’s appointment that you’re worried about. But right now you’re just relaxing for a moment, browsing the internet (and, apparently, reading this post). At this exact moment, you are at peace. Quiet moments are often so hard to come by, so when we get them we definitely should feel grateful.
Gratitude guides us past negative emotions like jealousy and resentment
Jealousy is such an ugly emotion, but it’s also a very human one. We’ve all felt it at one point or another. We’ll probably all feel it again someday. You can’t entirely remove negative emotions, and I’m not even sure it would be healthy to try.
But when you’re grateful for what you have, it’s easier to move past them. If you focus on the good in your life, you really don’t spend a lot of time looking at what others have. You’re perfectly content with how green the grass is on your own side of the fence, so to speak.
Being thankful for each other really helps deepen our bonds
Gratitude helps us to form much stronger connections and deeper bonds with our loved ones. When we focus on all the joy that they bring to our lives, we realize just how important they are to us.
Along those lines, I think gratitude also helps us be more forgiving of our loved ones. When we realize how very much they truly mean to us, it’s easier to move past it when they wrong us. I’m not saying that being grateful means you let people walk all over you and forgive even the worst transgressions. But you learn what is truly worth holding a grudge over and what isn’t.
Gratitude makes us more compassionate
Imagine this: It’s your day off and you really want to spend it outdoors, but it’s raining. Doesn’t that just figure? It hasn’t rained in weeks, and the first time you actually want it to stay dry, it pours.
You’re super grumpy about it. But then you remember that you’re really trying to practice gratitude. So you search for something joyful. Anything at all to brighten your day. You see a beautiful flower, and that makes you smile.
Then, you realize that without the rain, that flower wouldn’t exist. You start to think about how much rain matters to everything. Without it, we probably wouldn’t even be able to survive. We wouldn’t have crops, that’s for sure!
That thought leads you to think about how somewhere right now farmers who rely on their crops to feed their families are breathing a massive sigh of relief and feeling incredibly grateful. You realize that they needed the rain far more than you needed the sun, so you, too begin to feel grateful that nature has given them this gift.
Everything is connected. An attitude of gratitude helps you see that, and in turn, makes you a more compassionate person.
It helps us see ourselves in a better light & celebrate our small wins
Last, but far from least, I really think that gratitude is good for our own self-esteem. It helps us recognize our strengths and reminds us of our self-worth. It also makes us more likely to celebrate our successes- both big and small.
I think a lot of us are good at celebrating the big stuff, but struggle a bit with the smaller wins. We often think of our tiny accomplishments as “not that big of a deal.” But really, they ARE a big deal.
If your goal is to save up money to buy a house, celebrate finding a way to cut $5 off your daily expenses! Want to race a marathon even though you’ve never been much of a runner? Celebrate the first time you make it to the end of your street without feeling winded. Dream of writing the next great American novel? Celebrate the fact that you finally came up with a name for your main character!
Every single step you take and every single teeny-tiny win takes you in the right direction. So every single teeny-tiny accomplishment is definitely worthy of gratitude and celebration.
Here’s the bottom line: gratitude just plain makes life more meaningful, and it also makes us far better people. Now go out there and find something to be thankful for.