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Gratitude and Its Role in our Life

 "quality of being thankful"

Gratitude is an emotion we feel in response to receiving something good which is undeserved.

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This article will highlight the role of gratitude in our life. Before we can get to any of that, though, it is important to define what we are talking about when we discuss gratitude.

“an emotion that is typically evoked when one receives costly, unexpected, and intentionally rendered benefits, and is thought to play a key role in regulating the initiation and maintenance of social relationships” (Forster et al., 2017).

Purpose of Gratitude!

People use gratitude to form new social relations, or to build upon and make current ones better. Acts of gratitude can be used to apologize, make amends or help solve other problems people may face. Simply being grateful for being alive is a great way to motivate oneself to seize the day. The idea that tomorrow is not guaranteed is a strong motivator to some people.

Religious/Spiritual Perspectives on Gratitude!

Many philosophers historically recognized the importance of gratitude, so have many religious and spiritual movements, like Islam, Buddhism, Christianity. many religious discussions of gratitude in the past have been of the prescriptive sort, focusing on the importance of being grateful to a higher power. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in particular stressed the importance of gratitude for the path to a good life.

As for Islam, the purpose of each of the five daily prayers is not to ask Allah for anything, but to show gratitude towards Allah (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000). This shows that gratitude not only plays a major role in these three religions, but that gratitude plays a uniquely crucial role in each religion.

The fact that gratitude has long been considered an important aspect of religion and continues to be considered as such indicates that gratitude plays an immense role in faith and spirituality.

Benefits of Gratitude!

Better Physical and Mental Health

Recent research performed in 2015 showed that patients with heart failure, who completed gratitude journals showed reduced inflammation, improved sleep and better moods thus dramatically reducing their symptoms heart failure after only 8 weeks.

Gratitude makes people like us.
Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.

Gratitude makes us happier. 

Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career.

Gratitude boosts our career.
Gratitude makes you a more effective manager, helps you network, increases your decision making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges. As a result, gratitude helps you achieve your career goals, as well as making your workplace a more friendly and enjoyable place to be.

Gratitude strengthens our emotions.
Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.

The Effects of Gratitude!

In a study by Seligman, Steen, and Peterson (2005), participants were given one week to write and then deliver a letter of thanks in person to someone who had been especially kind to them, but who had never been properly thanked. The gratitude visit involves three basic steps:

  • First, think of someone who has done something important and wonderful for you, yet who you feel you have not properly thanked.
  • Next, reflect on the benefits you received from this person, and write a letter expressing your gratitude for all they have done for you.
  • Finally, arrange to deliver the letter personally, and spend some time with this person talking about what you wrote.
The results showed that participants who engaged in the letter-writing exercise reported more happiness for one month after the intervention compared to a control group. Expressing gratitude not only helps you to appreciate what you’ve received in life, it also helps you to feel that you’ve given something back to those who helped you.

Hand-delivering a letter of thanks absolves you of any residual guilt you might feel for not having thanked this person previously, and fosters a sincere, heartfelt interaction that can really strengthen your relationship.

Social effects of gratitude.
Gratitude can be observed at an individual level, with its subsequent effects, or at a greater social level.Research has shown that the practice of gratitude can create a greater social circle of good.

Apply it to Your Life! 

Before you go to sleep, simply think of the positive things that happened during the day; things that you are grateful for. Take a moment to do this every night.

If you have children, take a moment with them before bed-time to ask them to think about something they’re grateful for themselves. Don’t forget to set a good example by sharing what you’re grateful for!

If you feel that you have neglected to thank someone for being especially kind or helpful, don’t focus on feeling bad about it. Just write them a letter explaining your gratitude and deliver it in person, if possible. 

Article by: psychologist Sadia Javaid

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