What is gratitude and why is it important?
Gratitude is important because of it's simplicity and power and because of the wide range of benefits that it provides. For people looking to lose weight, get fit, make a lifestyle change, improve their nutrition, or improve their physical and emotional well being, gratitude can make all the difference. Before getting into all of the benefits of gratitude and how it can help you, it's probably a good idea to discuss what it looks like to be grateful.
As already mentioned, to be grateful is to have a quality of thankfulness. In our day-to-day lives, we experience a constant string of events. We wake up, start our day, learn about the activities or experiences of friends, family and strangers while engaging in our own activities and experiences. We interact directly or indirectly with other people and the objects in our environment. While it may not seem so to us, all of this interaction is neutral. In other words, nothing that happens to us or around us means anything without us adding a meaning to it. That is a difficult proposition for most people to accept. We want to believe that the things that happen in the world have intrinsic meaning, either good or bad. Again, it comes down to our beliefs.
Perhaps an example will be useful to explain what I mean. When you accidentally drop an object, to the universe or existence, it's just an exchange of energy. The falling object interacted with air molecules which resisted being pushed out of the way. It interacted with the floor, according to the laws of physics, encountering an equal and opposite force. That interaction caused the bonds that held the material together to weaken or break. As those bond broke, energy was released which interacted with the air molecules and caused sound waves. Those sound waves were then were picked up by your ears.
In the realm of the universe, the incident was just an application of the laws of physics. However, on top of the physics, you and I add our beliefs. We believe that the object that just broke was a priceless heirloom. We believe that the object had meaning because it was owned by our great grandmother. We believe that we have done something horrible by breaking the object. We believe that others will be upset with us. It is our beliefs about the world that change a neutral transformation of energy into something wonderful or something horrible.
The Role of Beliefs
This is where gratitude comes in to the picture. If we start to explore the actions and events that occur in our lives from a place of gratitude rather than from other perspectives, we can find positive meanings instead of negative meanings.
The Big List of Benefits for Being Grateful
Emotional Well Being
- happier memories
- greater resilience
- higher levels of relaxation
- higher levels of satisfaction with what we have and where we are in our lives
Personal Well Being
- greater levels of optimism about the future
- greater self-esteem
- greater self-efficacy
- decreased need to seek out material objects that we hope will provide us with happiness
- greater awareness of the benefits of the gifts we bring to others
- greater sense of connection to the existence
Social Well Being
- higher levels of social interaction
- healthier and deeper relationships
- giving and receiving kindness
- higher likability
Career Well Being
- larger and more useful networks
- higher achievement
- better decision making
- improved productivity
Physical Well Being
- improved immunity
- better sleep
- increased energy
How Can Gratitude Help Me Lose Weight?
And as you look at your experience of the world you will probably recognize that happier people tend to be healthier people. Healthier people tend to be more physically active and eat more nutritious foods. And, those who are physically active and eat more nutritious foods tend to be more resilient and have higher levels of self-efficacy when dealing with the ups and downs of everyday life. From this space of resilience and self-efficacy, the cycle repeats.
For weight loss, re-framing your experiences from a place of gratitude allows you to find the positive where previously you found fear, anger or sadness. Whatever was holding you back before now offers you an opportunity to proactively evolve toward the body and lifestyle you want.
What Can I Do Today?
- Write a gratitude journal.
- Create a gratitude ritual.
- Re-frame your problems.
- Visualize yourself in your best possible future.
- Honor people.
- Savor your experiences while you're having them and then savor the memories afterward.