Emotional HealthEmotional Intelligence

The power of an attitude of gratitude

5 Mins read
the power of attitude of gratitude

An attitude of gratitude is about feeling and expressing appreciation for all that we’ve received, all that we have, and for all that has not befallen us.

An attitude of gratitude is simply the ability to be thankful and appreciative of all the things in your life, both the good and the bad, both the big and small things regardless of how they make you feel. Its all about contentment and is the opposite of being discontented.

Gratitude has been said to be one of the lead results to someone’s happiness.

On a recent search of the “Secret to Happiness”, I stumbled upon this article from the Huff Post, ” Maybe you thought it was money, sex or food, but experts are saying that the key to happiness is something entirely different. It’s something that anyone can have at any time. So simple and it’s vital. It’s gratitude.”(Joshua Rosenthal,2011)1

The importance of gratitude is emphasized a lot even in scriptures. The Bible has very many verses that go like, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”- Colossians 3:15 and “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.”-2 Thessalonians 1:3

In Buddha’s teachings, gratitude plays an important role especially when talking about a person’s integrity. According to the Kataññu Suttas: Gratitude , Buddha said: “”A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people.2

Gratitude doesn’t just involve saying thank you for the amazing things people do to you. It is not all about what your mom told you to tell someone when they treat you to something nice.

the power of an attitude of gratitude

The meaning of an attitude of gratitude

An attitude of gratitude is simply the ability to be thankful and appreciative of all the things in your life, both the good and the bad, both the big and small things regardless of how they make you feel. Its pure contentment.

Many guide books and spiritual teachings advocate for contentment and gratitude as the major key to happiness. This is based on the fact that happiness is a state of mind and isn’t something that can be chased.

That is why, as the author and founder of The Mind Complex, I also advocate for mindfulness, self awareness and emotional intelligence as the pathway to a more fulfilling and happy life.

Benefits of an attitude of gratitude- why bother

Its funny how gratitude, such a simple thing, can be overlooked sometime.

Especially because of our nature to always complain about what we don’t have and what we could have – as if that will make us less miserable.

I guess that is why it has always been said;

Happiness all about the million little things.

I don’t know who first said this by the way.

Benefits of an attitude of gratitude

It uplifts our positive emotions

Having an attitude of gratitude forces you to focus on the positive side of your life.

All the negative feelings of “I don’t have this”, “I could have been this”, “I should be this”, “If I did this then I would be happier” fade from your mind as you focus on the present and the contentment in what you have.

Never confuse contentment with settling. Most people do, but you are not most people, nah! You are reading Dominic Nyabuto’s blog, you are not most people, you are unique, just like me.

Settling is accepting things that don’t make you happy and choosing to not pursue what does. Contentment on the other hand is choosing to accept, be thankful and appreciative of what you have and constantly working towards being the best that you can through acceptance of who you are.

It increases your self esteem and confidence in who you are

Participants who completed a four-week gratitude contemplation program reported greater life satisfaction and self-esteem than control group participants (Rash, Matsuba, & Prkachin, 2011).

An attitude of gratitude can help you feel better about your circumstances, which can lead to feeling better about yourself.

Helps people like you and improves your romantic relationships

attitude of gratitude
– show that special someone some love will you

Those who are more grateful have access to a wider social network, more friends, and better relationships on average (Amin, 2014)

There is something about someone who is content and grateful for what he/she has that attracts people to them. It helps people feel comfortable around you.

Its also healthy to your relationship, especially because most of us want our spouses and friends to be this or that rather than appreciating them for who they are.

In fact, a recent study found evidence that the act of expressing gratitude to our spouses resulted in improved quality in the relationship (Algoe, Fredrickson, & Gable, 2013).

Helps us in being more optimistic

Are you struggling with being pessimistic and always seeing the worst in people. Try being grateful, it will help you be more optimistic.3

Regular gratitude journaling has been shown to result in 5% to 15% increases in optimism (Amin, 2014).

It improves your workplace life, leadership skills

Gratitude research has shown that practicing gratitude enhances your managerial skills, enhancing your praise-giving and motivating abilities as a mentor and guide to the employees you manage (Stone & Stone, 1983).

Can you imagine how annoying your boss is? Or how much work you have to do at your workplace? Or that terrible environment you are being forced to work in?

Good. Now imagine what would happen if you decided to forget how bad things are and focus on being appreciative of what is there. You will find out that things begin to look a little bit brighter.

Bottom line

I watched this movie recently, ‘About Time’- a 2013 British romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Richard Curtis, and starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rachel McAdams and Bill Nighy. The film is about a young man with the ability to time travel who tries to change his past in hopes of improving his future.

Towards the end, the young man (Domhnall), is advised by his father on what really makes us humans happy.

He is told to do one thing – to wake up one day and do all the things he normally does, the way he always does them. After which, he was told, to go back in time and relive the same day but this time round, he was told to nurture the attitude of gratitude and see how different things would be.

So in the movie, we see him living the first day as he normally does (such a weird thing to write by the way). We see him getting annoyed when things go wrong, him being tired from all the noise and distraction in the environment and all the emotions you would expect in a day of a typical law man.

The day ends with him so exhausted and beat up, typical stressful day for him. You can relate right?

Then, he does like we was told by his father.

He goes back in time to relive the same day. He ends up focusing on all the positive things and being grateful for the tiny little things that he could normally ignore. By the end of the day, he wasn’t feeling tired, he wasn’t stressed. In fact, to him, it was a good day. But it was the same day – just lived differently.


I’d love to hear from you. Would you say you have an attitude of gratitude? How do you see the role of gratitude in your professional and personal life?

Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.


Footnotes

  1. Joshua, R. Gratitude:The Secret to Happiness. Retrieved from The Huffing-ton Post.
  2. It has always been fascinating to me how most of what Buddhism teaches is being proven right by science these days. – Jellyn, G.(2018) Buddha on Gratitude. Retrieved from Kaiya.co
  3. Joan, C. A. 12 ways to develop an attitude of gratitude. Retrieved from Inspiring tips.com
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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