On this year’s World Gratitude Day, celebrated annually on 21st September, we explain how expressing gratitude can improve one’s quality of life. This day serves as an international observance encouraging people to reflect on their blessings and express their gratitude.
The history behind World Gratitude Day
his day was invented by Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual leader and meditation teacher. Appreciation is a worldwide practice today and a personal one that we can all use to improve our lives, but it goes back to 1965.
This day was conceived at a Thanksgiving dinner in the United Nations’ meditation room. Sri Chinmoy, at the dinner suggested the idea of a global holiday of gratitude. Each person at the dinner pledged to hold an event in their home country every year on that holiday, and they all spent the rest of the evening discussing how they might spread the word about this new holiday. The following year, in 1966, many countries observed the first annual World Gratitude Day on September 21, and the day has been celebrated annually ever since.
Gratitude can change your perspective
However, how can being grateful change your perspective on life? How can you choose to be grateful today?
In a TEDx public speaking, Tye Dutcher, Olympic water polo player, highlighted that gratitude affected our brain, changing our neural structures to make us feel happier and more content even with tragedy. There is a neurochemical level in our brain where gratitude acts as a catalyst neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Basically, the emotions that can even uplift are the chemicals that can maintain uplift our emotions pertaining to pain and immediate stress responses.
Furthermore, Gisa Paredes, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer for WellAtSea and Licensed Psychologist, highlighted that people who possess dispositional gratitude tend to engage themselves more in healthy activities. For example, they see everything as a gift, they possess positive affect traits, and they have high levels of extraversion and low levels of neuroticism.
The benefits of gratitude
#1 Better psychological and physical well-being: Expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies have demonstrated that being grateful can enhance immunity, sleep, and mood.
#2 Gratitude improves your sleep: One study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition showed those assigned a daily gratitude journal to complete before bed got half an hour more shut-eye than those who didn’t!
#3 Gratitude reduces materialism: The important role of gratitude in reducing materialism cannot be overstated. Several studies have found that gratitude reduces short term gratification and reinforces the pursuit of more meaningful goals in life.
#4 Gratitude improves physical health: Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health.
#5 Gratitude reduces aggression: Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback.
Gratitude is one of the ultimate counterbalances to negativity. Whilst we may be motivated by bad things we want to change, gratitude is about the good things we want to protect. It’s surprisingly difficult to tap into gratitude and also get stuck in negativity. When you find yourself getting wrapped up in those negative thoughts or starting down a spiral, challenge your mind to find something in that moment to be grateful.
There are numerous ways to express gratitude for the blessings in one’s existence. The following affirmations, for instance, can help you express gratitude and feel calm and happy:
#1 Happiness is within me. I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I’ve been given.
#2 I am grateful for many things in my life that bring me joy and comfort.
#3 I am open to things working out for me. I am open to receiving abundance. I am open to connecting with my highest self.
We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
… said Cynthia Ozick, American short story writer, novelist, and essayist.