‘Counting your blessings.’ 

The benefits of developing a sense of gratitude.

Aunt Lucy taught me to count my blessings. It’s the first thing she does when she wakes up in the morning …………

The benefits of developing a sense of gratitude include: –

  • The development of optimism and a positive outlook. When an individual makes a conscious effort to feel grateful for all the things they enjoy; they will develop a more positive approach to life generally. A sense of gratitude reassures the individual that everything is fine as it is, and reduces the need to continually strive and chase happiness. 
  • A reduction in a perceived need to buy happiness. Buying ‘stuff’ will only bring temporary happiness. The pleasure of a new phone, new trainers, new car or new toy, will not last. If an individual is content and grateful for what they have, they will become less materialistic and feelings of envy will be diminished. 
  • The development of empathy. Gratitude encourages the individual to be more caring and to think about the needs of others.
  • Improved mental and physical health. Gratitude has been shown to reduce levels of anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve the immune system and have a positive effect on the quality of a person’s sleep.
  • Enhanced personal and social relationships. When gratitude is shown towards others, the quality of personal relationships improves and connectivity between individuals increases. A sense of gratitude helps to overcome such negative emotions as jealousy, and allows the person to feel happier around others.
  • An increase in self-esteem. When the individual acknowledges their gratitude for family and friends, they accept that there are people close to them, who care about them. Knowing that they have value in the eyes of others will support their self-confidence.

To develop gratitude: –

  • Slow down and take time to appreciate what is already good about your life. Spend a few minutes every day thinking about the things you are grateful for: good health, extended family, good weather, loyal friends, satisfying hobbies, a well-kept garden, a much-loved pet and so on.
  • Acknowledge the small things you encounter daily that give you pleasure, particularly those things you normally take for granted: a favourite TV programme, a refreshing shower, a perfect cup of tea, a bus arriving on time or a funny Instagram post.
  • Express gratitude to others. The next time an acquaintance does something helpful or kind, thank them for their thoughtfulness. Even if you don’t feel like it, go through the motions of being grateful: smile, express your appreciation verbally or send an email to say thank you. What goes around, comes around. 
  • Actively look for situations in which you can feel grateful. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to practise gratitude: for example, going to the dentist and not requiring treatment, having a good night’s sleep, getting a seat on the train or doing better than you thought you would in an exam.
  • Write down ten things you are grateful for every day then, whenever you feel dissatisfied, look back at your lists and remind yourself just how many things you have to be grateful for. 

……….. I’ve been counting my blessings. Except, I do mine before I go to sleep. I have so many, I may not have time tomorrow.’ (Paddington Bear)

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