(1 minute read)

Often described as the social glue which strengthens relationships, Gratitude can be difficult to define. Is it a virtue, an emotion, or a behaviour?

Select questions around the phenomenon of gratitude include; Where does it come from? Why do some people seem to be more grateful than others? Are there ways we can foster more feelings and expressions of gratitude?

Fortunately, researchers have developed some frameworks for conceptualizing gratitude so that it can be better understood. Researchers Emmons and McCullough define gratitude as a two-step process: 1) recognizing that one has obtained a positive outcome, and 2) recognizing that there is an external source for this positive outcome.

While most of these Positive Outcomes come from other people—hence gratitude’s reputation as an “other-oriented” emotion—people can also experience gratitude toward nature or their respective God, etc.

Research into gratitude has identified that it can be associated with many benefits for individuals, including better physical and psychological health, increased happiness and life satisfaction, decreased materialism, and more.

Author of The Resilience Project, Hugh Van Cuylenburg, has shared his stories and first-hand experiences of the benefits available to those of us who decide to build Gratitude into our daily routine.

In only 21 days of practising gratefulness:

  • The brain learns to scan the world to identify positives
  • Individuals become 3 times more likely to notice a positive

Within 42 days of practising gratitude, you:

  • Have higher levels of energy
  • Are less likely to get ill
  • Are more focused
  • Are more determined
  • Have improved quality of sleep
  • Experience lower levels of stress or anxiety

How to begin practising Gratitude

Van Cuylenburg has shared 3 simple questions to reflect upon (and ideally journal about).

  1. What was the best thing that happened to me today?
  2. Who am I most grateful for today and why?
  3. What am I looking forward to most about tomorrow?

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