Gratitude is Good for You
In order to really thrive, we all need to have a few key things in place. We need a good sense of self, to be resilient, to feel hope and like we’re making a contribution, and to enjoy ourselves. Yes, the pandemic has made this harder, but there are ways to make hard things easier!
One way is as simple as feeling thankful. In fact, science has shown that there are real mental health benefits to finding the positives and practicing gratitude for them.
So, what is gratitude? It is the acknowledgement that good things exist in the world and that they have come into our lives. And it is the recognition that goodness comes from outside ourselves.
Gratitude can be defined as a state, a trait, a feeling, and a virtue. It’s also a verb – it’s an action we can make consciously.
And it not only improves our mental health. Practicing gratitude can improve our relationships and the wellbeing of others. It can also help us feel hopeful and optimistic, making us ready to take on whatever comes our way.
From Ride Don’t Hide partner Westland Insurance, here’s everything you need to bring more gratitude into your life.
WHAT IS A GRATITUDE PRACTICE?
Gratitude as a feeling has three components: appreciation, goodwill, and action.
Appreciation can be as simple as a sigh at a beautiful sunset. It’s about taking in and enjoying what’s around you.
Goodwill is about being grateful to someone or something. It’s about the connection that’s built when we feel grateful for the people and experiences in our life.
Action is, of course, what we do with that appreciation and goodwill. It’s calling a loved one to watch the sunset with us. It’s sending a friend a note expressing our appreciation. It’s calling someone on their birthday or just because.
We can feel gratitude for the past by remembering happy childhood experiences or feeling thankful for good memories. We can feel gratitude for the present, recognizing all the good in our lives. And we can apply gratitude to the future with hope for the things we haven’t yet explored.
Practicing gratitude simply means applying this mindset intentionally. It means finding the good and rejoicing in it, connecting to it, and sharing it with others. A gratitude practice is a personal thing and can look different for each of us. The common element is focusing on what brings us joy and actively appreciating it.
HOW DOES IT HELP OUR MENTAL HEALTH?
Gratitude can improve our mental health in some pretty significant and remarkable ways. Science has proven that happiness increases when we practice gratitude, as does optimism, and satisfaction with life. Gratitude can also help reduce anxiety and depression. It encourages us to see the good that exists in the world. It is good for our physical health too as it strengthens our immune system, lowers blood pressure and reduces aches and pains.
Gratitude can help lift us out of a stressful moment and connect us to something larger than ourselves. It builds our self-esteem and resilience, helping us bounce back from stressful situations. Expressing gratitude helps draw people into community and strengthen our bonds and relationships. It can enhance our empathy and, for some, even reduce aggression and anger.
Research has shown that by actively practicing gratitude, we increase our sense of wellbeing:
- Study participants who regularly wrote gratitude lists reported fewer symptoms or illness and decreases in negative feelings.
- Studies show that “gratitude behaviours” such as keeping a gratitude journal, and writing and sending a gratitude letter lead to increased happiness and less depression.
- Study participants who contemplated the things they were grateful for had a more ordered heart rate and reported better well-being and self-esteem.
HOW TO START PRACTICING GRATITUDE?
An attitude of gratitude is good for us, and it feels good. But it’s also more than that. It motivates us to share what we’ve received. To pay it forward. To give back. That’s where Ride Don’t Hide comes in. It’s all about giving back and feeling better.
Gratitude Challenge with
Ride Don’t Hide gives us a reason to connect whether it’s through a team, a workplace challenge, or a community event. You might want to livestream a training session for family and friends, create a comment board or leaderboard, or start a friendly competition between teams or departments at work.
Ride Don’t Hide also gives us a great way to say thanks with style! And to share the love.
Join the Gratitude Challenge as part of Ride Don’t Hide. It is gratefully sponsored by Westland Insurance. Here’s how it works:
- Find your community and register for Ride Don't Hide,
- Download the Gratitude Generator Toolkit and use throughout June. This will help you thank your donors and practice gratitude in your daily life.
- Share your gratitude on Thursdays with the hashtags #ThankfulThursdays, #RideDontHide and #WestlandInsuranceChallenge.
- Reap the mental health benefits as your pandemic-discontent ebbs away and your hopefulness soars!
- Make it a habit! Gratitude is good for you all year long.
Feeling grateful is easy when your friends and family are rallying around you in Ride Don’t Hide and making donations to your personal goal. That’s just one of the warm and fuzzy side effects of giving back!
But it doesn’t have to end when the Ride does. Check out the Gratitude Generator from Ride Don’t Hide partner Westland Insurance. It has everything you need to thank your donors now and inspire gratitude all year long.