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Cicero once said that “gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others”. How does gratitude affect your life, what does gratitude have to do with self-confidence and how to practice this virtue?
Why Gratitude Is Important
Numerous studies (such as those conducted by Seligman et. all., 2005, Emmons and McCullough, 2003 and Lyubomirsky et. all., 2005) have confirmed that practicing gratitude is one of the keys to a happier life. Here are the most important reasons why gratitude is important:
1. It makes you happier
Money is NOT a prerequisite to happiness. There are many poor people who feel happy.
Marriage or having a girlfriend/boyfriend is NOT a prerequisite to happiness. There are plenty of single people who are happy.
Any sign of status (job title, expensive car, nice home) is NOT a prerequisite to happiness. There are many of people who lack any sign of status, yet they are happy.
If all of these things are not necessary for happiness, then what is? Yes, you guessed it right – gratitude.
Gratitude teaches you to appreciate small things. And being able to appreciate small things is the foundation of being happy. Happiness is a state of mind, not a certain mix of conditions such as “I will be happy if I make $20 000 a month, marry Miss Universe, write a bestseller and live in a penthouse in New York”.
The better you are at expressing gratitude, the happier you are. While money, relationship and status can help you feel MUCH happier, they won’t make you feel happy alone if you can’t appreciate small things in life.
2. It makes you less stressed and depressed
Grateful people are less stressed and depressed, and the reason for that is that they think less negative and more positive thoughts. The more negative thoughts are in your mind, the more negative person you are. And as you already know from our post about negative thinking, negative thoughts have a dramatic impact on your life and health.
3. It increases your life satisfaction
Grateful people enjoy higher life satisfaction because of increased levels of happiness, health, personal growth and overall sense of well-being. Gratitude improves mental health, helps you sleep better and cope with problems better.
4. It helps you gain more self-acceptance
Focusing on positive things instead of negative things helps you gain more self-acceptance. Instead of obsessing over the fact that you have small breasts, be grateful that you have a beautiful face. Instead of thinking about your big nose, be grateful for your facial hair. Appreciate things that you have and accept things that you can’t change.
5. It improves your social relationships
Grateful people enjoy social relationships more, because they are able to better appreciate their friends and family. Their social ties are stronger, they have easier time making new friends and keeping up with old friends. Who doesn’t like to spend time with a person who clearly expresses that she appreciates you for who you are?
Gratitude and Self-Confidence
How does gratitude relate to your self-confidence? As we mentioned before, gratitude increases your overall level of well-being. As a result, you feel happier, less stressed and more satisfied with your life. This directly affects your self-esteem. And as you already know, self-esteem is one of the main factors that influence your self-confidence.
Another important reason why gratitude improves your self-confidence is that it helps you accept yourself. Stop obsessing over things that you can’t change and be grateful for all the great things that you have (and each of us has something to be grateful for).
Last but not least, expressing gratitude improves your social relationships. As Leo Babauta writes in his great post about gratitude, “people like being appreciated for who they are and what they do. It costs you little, but makes someone else happy. And making someone else happy will make you happy.”
That’s why we believe that every person who wants to overcome shyness should learn how to express gratitude, and do it on a daily basis. Here’s how to do it.
How to Express Gratitude?
There are a few ways to express gratitude. Here they are:
1. Gratitude thinking
The easiest way to practice gratitude is to simply fill your mind with grateful thoughts. Remind yourself of all things that you’re grateful for, tell your friends that you enjoy spending time with them, say “I love you” to your partner, thank random strangers if they made your day better, give a thoughtful gift to a person you love.
Make gratitude thinking a daily habit. Every morning (or every evening) take two or three minutes to give thanks to whoever or whatever you’re grateful for.
2. Gratitude journal
Start a gratitude journal in which every morning or every evening you’re going to write down at least ten things that you’re grateful for. It doesn’t matter if you write about small things or big things or if they repeat from time to time – just make a list of ten things that you’re grateful for.
3. Gratitude visit
Write a letter of gratitude to someone in your life and deliver it to this person. Out of these three ways of expressing gratitude, this one is the most difficult because it requires courage to reveal your true feelings to another person. However, it’s a beautiful gesture that the receiver of your letter will surely appreciate!
“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.”
There is always something to be grateful for!
Your task for today: start a gratitude journal. Every single day write down ten things that you’re grateful for. If you don’t want to start a journal, at least think of ten things that you’re grateful for. Do it every single day in the morning or in the evening.