by Sharon Quercioli
We often talk about gratitude – especially around this time of the year – but what does it mean to actually be grateful and show gratitude? First, we’re going to have to break it down. Gratitude comes from the Latin word “gratus” which means “thankful”. So when you feel gratitude, you’re feeling thankful for something that someone did for you.
Simple, right? Gratitude is that feeling that you get when someone holds the door open for you when you’ve got armfuls of grocery bags or if a stranger holds an elevator door for you. We all feel gratitude every day over small things but we can always do more.
Studies have shown that when you are grateful of the things that happen around you, on a consistent basis, your body goes through positive psychological, physical, and social changes. Seriously!
People who show gratitude regularly are:
- more outgoing,
- show more optimism,
- have stronger immune systems,
- less bothered by aches,
- exercise more often,
- make healthier decisions, and
- are more refreshed when waking in the morning.
Gratitude also helps us stay present in the current situation and aids in celebrating the little things that often get overlooked.
Being Verbally Grateful
Saying “thank you” for the smallest things isn’t just an example of using manners for manner’s sake. It is also a way that you can show gratitude and it is a way to make others feel good about doing good deeds. This is a simple and easy way to pay it forward. Saying a simple “thank you” or “I really appreciate what you do” can brighten someone’s day or turn a bad day around.
Physically Showing Gratitude
There are many different ways to show someone that you are grateful for them and/or what they’ve done. One of my favorite ideas is to have a handful of cards at hand (in a purse, briefcase, beach bag, or in the glovebox of your car). Fill it out as a simple thank you card with a general statement in it. Something like, “Thank you so much for what you do! You’ve made my day better!” Then, when the situation arises, hand them out.
Check out our “Just a Note” plantable cards here (http://www.sproutem.com/category/Just-a-Note-Cards). Not only can you give some wonderful people a good sentiment, you can also give them the gift of beautiful flowers.
Start a “Pay It Forward” at your favorite café or bakery. Leave five or six dollars to pay for a drink for the next person in line or for a veteran to have a cup of coffee.
Giving Back All Year Long
Next year, make a habit of starting a gratitude journal. Write down what you are grateful for every day. Make sure that you write down something different for every day. Even the smallest things count. If that feels like a habit that you can’t keep, try something different. Make a pact with a friend (or with yourself) to go an entire month without complaining, gossiping, or criticizing. It’s actually harder than you may imagine but it can go a long way in terms of starting a new and better habit.