The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness
What is gratitude? What is being grateful? What impact does experiencing gratitude have on my physical and mental health?
We know that gratitude is a great quality to have, however, most do not know the physical and mental impacts being an active gratitude-observer can have on our lives.
Studies show that practicing gratitude regularly can boost moods, improve your outlook on life, and ultimately improve your chance on having more positive mental health reports.
In a Berkeley study, evidence shows that the combination of psychological counseling and practicing gratitude leaves patients happier.
The Berkeley study performed a study on individuals at a university who were seeking mental health counseling (the majority) for depression and anxiety. The study observed three groups that all received counseling services with small differences in their activities combined with therapy.
Group #1: Wrote one letter of gratitude to another person each week for three weeks.
Group #2: Journaled about their deepest thoughts/feelings about negative experiences.
Group #3: No writing activity
The results were what you might expect. Those who wrote gratitude letters reported better mental health four weeks and 12 weeks after the writing exercise concluded.
What does this say about the human body & mind? In my opinion, counting your blessings gives yourself a greater outlook on your current circumstances. While not everyone’s circumstances are the same, identifying the positive aspects in your life can feed motivation, encouragement, and the overall outlook on your life.
An “Attitude of Gratitude” means that in everyday life, the individual is seeking out ways to recognize the positives in their lives.
Being Grateful Doesn’t Mean Everything is Going Well
Gratitude gives you a new appreciation for life. Your blessings, challenges, personal growth, career growth, and whatever else it may be to you. By appreciating the circumstances of your life, and taking the curveballs for what they are worth, you can mold into a more well-rounded and positive individual. Being grateful in the storm is a thing too… you know?
Within the athletics realm, it can be easy to find everything not going in your favor:
- Not getting the playing time you desire
- Finding (and embracing) your role on the team
- Having an injury
But what if we approached these road bumps with a grateful heart?
- I am not getting the playing time I desire; I am going to get extra reps every day after practice. When my time comes, I will be ready. Until then, I will prepare to be my best and make my position group stronger.
- While the result is not what the team envisioned. We trained, scouted, and competed for the moments before us. Not everyone can compete in collegiate athletics, let alone at the Division I level. The experiences we have are something to be grateful about.
- I’m not in the starting lineup, I’m on the scout team, or the backup, and I can be easily interchangeable with another teammate; but that is what makes our team great. We have people coming into practice every single day to compete for a spot in our lineup. Iron sharpens iron.
- Currently, I am battling this road bump. Thankfully, it’s one that I have never really had to face throughout my time in college. By learning to accept the circumstances, find ways I can contribute, and appreciate and value what you can still do.
The world of athletics can be cutthroat. It takes a resilient individual to not only survive, but to thrive throughout their collegiate career. I have yet to hear the story of a collegiate athlete looking back on their experience and confidently saying that everything went exactly the way they envisioned when they signed the dotted line. It is these experiences that shape and mold us into resilient young men and women ready to make a difference in the world.
How we respond to events can help mold the outcome of our choices.
My Gratitude Tendencies
I tend to get the most out of my gratitude reflection when I am in in nature, and am present with my surroundings. Finding time to be practice gratitude might be very limited, so I have found ways to be grateful amidst the busy season I am in.
My latest times of practicing gratitude have been happening while walking to and fro on campus at Belmont University. Needless to say, Belmont is beautiful, innovative, religious, and has many other important factors to its success while drawing top students from across the country. What not to be grateful for?
The thoughts and feelings begin to flow:
- I am so grateful to be here, in Nashville, at Belmont.
- I am grateful that the sun is shining and the sky is clear.
- I am grateful that it rained so the grass could look this green.
- I am grateful that I woke up this morning!
- I am grateful that I know where my next meal is coming from.
- I am grateful for my education.
- I am grateful for the friendships that I have made.
- I am grateful to be surrounded by high-level individuals chasing their dreams.
- I am grateful for the opportunities I am blessed with daily.
The list goes on…
It can be so easy to be grateful for so many things the you stop and take the time to evaluate the things going right in your life.
Write a handwritten letter to someone you are particularly grateful for in your life.
Give details to how they have positively impacted your life. This is good reflection for yourself as well as appreciation for your special person.
Deep breathing, guided meditation can give you time to start your day fresh or decompress after a long day.
By writing down your thoughts and feelings, you give yourself space to be thankful and evaluate your thoughts and emotions.
Putting positive interactions on paper gives yourself a reference point when life gets difficult.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
1 Thessalonians 5:15
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.