What’s So Great About Gratefulness?

young woman handing a flower to a friend

For many of us, it was our parents who taught us to say please and thank you. It was the ‘right’ thing to do. It made others feel good. It gave some recognition to the person or the gesture.

But is that all there is to gratitude?

In my work assisting others to increase success in their individual and professional lives, I try to utilize the powerful resources already existing inside them to achieve their goals. Gratitude is one of those resources we all possess, and one that gains power the more we live it and share it.

“I’ve become aware that when I mindfully practice gratitude consistently, my relationships improve, I am happier with my work, and I feel better about myself.”

– Juli Geske Peer, 5 Senses for Success

Gratitude and Appreciation

We can choose to see the world through a lens of gratitude and that shift brings about appreciation. However, they are not the same thing. “Gratitude is described as the feeling of thankfulness for something or someone. Appreciation is recognizing the good qualities of someone or something. While gratitude is a feeling, appreciation is an action based on that feeling.” (Abundance No Limits).

We often FEEL gratitude for another individual in our life, but we can take that a step further when we appreciate all that they bring, such as a kind ear, a comforting presence, or a  sense of safety or joy. When we move into the ACTION of appreciation, we are even more present and aware of what it is we are grateful for.

If you cannot easily come up with something you are grateful for it is time to take a pause and reflect. You could try things like journaling, meditating, or doing yoga to reach inward and find thankfulness. Then, moving this outward, when you take positive actions to demonstrate your gratitude, it can trigger positive responses in your brain and your body and the science backs this up.

Science Has An Appreciation for Gratitude

Researchers have found that gratitude has powerful, positive physiological and psychological effects. A piece by the Harvard Business Review called, Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier  begins by noting how the stress and expectations of the holiday season can bring with it anxiety, overwhelm, sadness and depression.   

So how do we embrace gratefulness when we feel so bad? The Harvard article goes on to cite a study by psychologists from the  Universities of California and Miami. They found that even the simple act of writing down what we are grateful for made their test subjects more optimistic. They exercised more and even had fewer doctor visits than those who wrote about what displeased them! Similar results were found in another study where partners began to feel more positive toward each other after making it a practice to openly express their gratitude for one another.

Don’t Just Speak It – Live It

Appreciation is one of the keys to fostering an accomplished, thriving life. In chapter six of my book, 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena, I share the ‘how’ of practicing appreciation. Keeping gratitude at the forefront of how we focus and live our lives can truly turn things around for us.

Reaching for something we don’t have in hopes that it will make us happy is not always a good gamble, as it can get us focused negatively (what we don’t have, what we haven’t yet achieved). When challenges and obstacles arise it is a good practice (although not always an easy one) to look for the positive in a tough situation. You can be grateful for someone who supports you during a really tough time. You can appreciate the times you have made it through similar difficulties in the past and draw on the lessons learned then to guide you now.

This practice of gratefulness requires a curiosity for the world around us and a dedication to being truly present. If that seems like a lot of work then maybe a list of benefits from practicing gratitude might help. The following are just a few of the significant, researched benefits in an article on gratitude by Psychology Today:

  • Emotional benefits (we are happier and have better self-esteem)
  • Social benefits (better friendships and romantic relationships)
  • Personality Benefits (increased optimism; decreased materialism)
  • Career Benefits (more effective as managers; find meaning in our work)
  • Physical Health Benefits (reduced blood pressure; improved sleep)
  • Recovery Benefits (enhanced recovery from substances and coronary events)

Wow! And that is only part of the list. Putting a little effort into identifying what we are grateful for pays off in so many ways.

Thankful Habits and Practices

“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”

– Germany Kent

Some of the biggest regrets come from missed opportunities to tell someone how we feel about them before that is no longer an option. We have suffered so much loss in the past couple of years. We do not know what tomorrow brings. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could use today (even this minute!) to share our gratitude with those around us?

People express gratitude in many ways. For example, when you are with someone who means a lot to you, take a moment to feel and absorb the positive energy they instill in you. (Smile. This is the good stuff.) Now it is your turn—what positive energy can you bring to them?

A gift is a nice gesture of gratitude, but don’t forget the power of the earnestly written or spoken word. Just think back to a time when a total stranger said something kind to you and how it surprised you and made your day; or think about how much you appreciated a time your family member told you what they valued about you.

Now think of how incredibly powerful it will be to tell someone you encounter, know or love exactly what it is that makes them so special.

If you are not the demonstrative type, a letter or card with your heartfelt words can be just as eloquent and powerful. If you need other inspiration, you can always go to The 5 Love Languages for ideas.

Moving Forward With Gratitude

Now that Thanksgiving has passed and we are moving into the rest of the holiday season (and beyond), let’s focus on keeping the feeling of gratitude and the action of appreciation at the forefront of our interactions. We often mistake spending a lot of money on a gift as the best way to show our gratitude. I suggest a gift that will make a lasting impact is the one that includes spending your TIME with someone who matters. That can be time recognizing the contributions of an employee or co-worker, or time spent with your children or spouse appreciating what they bring to your quality of life. Or you can make a small, kind gesture when it’s not anticipated. When we invest ourselves—our heart, our time, our effort—we have the opportunity to bring true joy to someone’s day…any day of the year.

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

– Voltaire

With my sincere appreciation of YOU!,

#JuliGeskepeer, #AboutGratefulness, #mentalhealthandgratitude, #successinanyarena, #successfulleaders, #empathy, #mindset, #successandgratitude, #juligeskepeerauthor, #emotionalhealing, #emotionalintelligence


A Great Holiday Gift!

For more about engaging all the senses that can provide support for your journey to success, please take a moment to explore my newly published book, 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena. I am very proud to share these approaches and truly achievable practices that were born out of my own life and career experiences and strategic research. Each of us has it within us to achieve success and create healthier relationships within ourselves and with others

Here is a link for more information. https://juligeskepeer.com/5-senses-for-success

Juli Geske Peer is a leadership, relationship and accountability strategist whose professional credentials include two academic degrees, mediator training, train-the-trainer certification, two coaching certifications, numerous other learning and certification accomplishments, and now, author!

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