August 25, 2020

Mindset Matters: Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Even in the best of times, life can be worrisome. 

Will I get sick? What will I do if I lose my job? Do I have enough resources to get through this? How can I help my parents? What does all this mean for my family?

In this issue of High Impact Insights, we’ll draw on the wisdom of renowned psychologist Dan Mager to share with you the importance of maintaining an attitude of gratitude, and the key steps for cultivating it.  

What is gratitude?

Put simply, gratitude is the opposite of being discontented.

“Gratitude is about feeling and expressing appreciation: for all we’ve received; all that we have (however little it may be), and for all that has not befallen us,” says psychologist and expert Dan Mager. Interestingly, Mager also believes that gratitude functions as an antidote for attachment to what we want but don’t have and, conversely, an aversion to what we have but don’t want. 

What are the benefits of gratitude?

Over the past decade, numerous scientific studies have documented a wide range of benefits that come with gratitude. And, best of all, these benefits are available to anyone who practices them.

Here’s what Mager believes are the immediate benefits of gratitude:

  • Gratitude facilitates contentment. Practicing gratitude is one of the most reliable methods for increasing contentment and life satisfaction. It also improves mood by enhancing feelings of optimism, joy, pleasure, enthusiasm, and other positive emotions. Conversely, gratitude also reduces anxiety and depression.
  • Gratitude promotes physical health. Studies suggest gratitude helps to lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system, and reduce symptoms of illness.
  • Gratitude enhances sleep. Grateful people tend to get more sleep each night, spend less time awake before falling asleep, and feel more rested upon awakening. If you want to sleep more soundly, instead of counting sheep, count your blessings.
  • Gratitude strengthens relationships. It makes us feel closer and more connected to our family and friends. When partners feel and express gratitude for each other, they each become more satisfied with their relationship.
  • Gratitude encourages “paying it forward.” Grateful people are generally more helpful, generous of spirit, and compassionate. These qualities often spill over onto others.

How to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

Two specific ways that you can practice the skill of being grateful are, first, by writing gratitude letters and, second, making gratitude lists. 

Specifically, a gratitude letter is one you write to someone in your life to express appreciation for ways they have helped you and/or been there for you. Gratitude letters can be about events that have happened in the past or are happening in the present, and can help to strengthen or repair relationships. 

gratitude list consists of writing down three to five things for which you’re grateful every day or each week.

Parting Thoughts

In this issue of High Impact Insights, we’ve shared the importance of maintaining an attitude of gratitude. 

You have two specific methods for putting gratitude to work for you—and, in so doing, capture the wonderful benefits that accompany it.

Remember, even though the times might be tough, there’s always something for which to be grateful.