Gratitude has been known to be one of the most powerful emotions of all. As a result of gratitude, our physical, emotional and social well-being improve. We feel more positive, have greater resilience, and are more able to build strong relationships —— that is what scientific studies say, at least. However, ‘gratitude’ seems to be a vague term: what is it, and why is it so powerful?
Personally, I would interpret gratitude as the recognition of the good in our lives – the love and care we experience, the things we treasure, the joy we find in life. For instance, being able to hang out with your bestie, enjoying a holiday with your family, or even just having a smooth day at school or at work. It involves the process of giving thanks and appreciating the blessings.
How do we cultivate gratitude, though? You might have heard of ‘Gratitude Journal’, which is an exercise of recording three things that you are grateful for. However, studies show that the benefits of a tri-daily exercise outweigh that of journaling on a daily basis. In my own practice of learning to be grateful, I find that genuineness is the key to gratitude, rather than the form or frequency. Forcing yourself to look for things that you find yourself ‘lucky’ does not fall into the blanket of gratitude, instead rendering the practice a mere formality. Thus, only give thanks to things when you really mean it, to people you really appreciate, and to events you really perceive as blessings.
There might be times when life does not go our way. Especially in the midst of the pandemic, people get sick, our daily lives disrupted, and we feel worried and insecure. Truth be told, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and helpless in bad times. However, it need not mean that your emotions get to suck the life right out of you. Have you ever wondered, under the same circumstances, why do some cope better than others? For me, I find that attitude has a key role in resilience, which leads us right back to gratitude.
In the process of recognising the good, the goodness lies partially in ourselves. Gratitude is a choice, in which we choose to be kind to ourselves, rather than something in-born. We are the owner of our own thoughts and emotions, and everything is a choice. You can choose to grumble against heaven for all the bad things in your life, or rather, you can choose to find something to learn in every situation and give thanks for what you still possess. You can hold grudges against others who treat you badly, or instead, you can opt to appreciate those who have been by your side. Life is full of challenges and setbacks, but would you rather focus on things that give you a hard time, or the blessings that make your life enjoyable?
Gratitude is very powerful. It enables us to rise above hardships and enhances resilience. The question is, are you ready to start your own journey towards a better life? Everything is a choice, and the power is in your very own hands.