Being grateful is such a simple concept.
People have been talking about it for a long time, so many studies have been done on it, and everyone has heard some way or another that it will uplift your life.
And how couldn’t it?
Being grateful for everything you have, no matter how small or how much adversity you face, uplifts your mind and brightens your outlook.
Without a doubt it will help you focus on what makes you happy.
And you can’t help but find something you’re fortunate to have in your life, even if it’s as small as your every breath of air!
Let’s look a little deeper into this concept we’ve all heard about, and allow ourselves to be inspired to feel gratitude for whatever we have in our lives.
Did You Know Being Grateful Actually Changes Your Brain?
There’s a lot to be said on this topic. And there are lots of psychological and medical documents out there displaying detailed descriptions of the experiments and statistics done on being grateful. (Check out psychologytoday.com for some clear info on the science of it all.)
But let’s just take a quick look at the overview of why being grateful actually works, and how it affects your brain; just to give you some idea of its power for good.
So how does it work?
It can almost be summed up in one word:
This is the chemical your brain releases when something feels good.
Being grateful creates a response in the areas of your brain associated with dopamine. And when your brain gets a “reward” of dopamine, it loves it.
Since being grateful sets off a dopamine response, your brain actually feels happier when you’re grateful!
More than that, it makes your brain hungry to do whatever you did, another time. After we’ve been grateful once, we want to be grateful again.
As if this isn’t incredible enough, our brains do something even more wonderful at this point.
They start to look for things to be grateful about, so you can feel gratitude even MORE often, which makes you even happier! Our brains go as far as to try and recreate whatever initiated that “feel good” response.
So now, not only are you feeling good and want to be grateful again, but you’re also subconsciously seeking out opportunities to be grateful!
You have now rerouted your brain to look for the good in things. You helped it see what’s best in your life and find the silver lining.
Because of this, you will become more optimistic (another trait associated with increased happiness), and move your mind away from thoughts that bring you down.
By being grateful, you’ve actually helped yourself to be happier and more uplifted.
You’ve literally improved how you feel.
If Feeling Happier Isn’t A Good Enough Reason…
Being grateful helps you along the difficult road of acceptance.
Accepting yourself, your situation, and your place in every moment is a powerful state of being.
Now don’t mistake acceptance for complacency. They’re very different.
You can (and most likely want to) keep growing in yourself and your life, towards better and better things. Don’t just settle for where you are just because you’re there. Don’t be complacent.
But accept where you are on your journey. By doing this, we are able to find peace in any situation. And peace is miraculous.
How does being grateful lead to acceptance?
Well, when you’re focused on being grateful for what you have, you use your mind to see the good in your situation. And when you see all the up sides to where you are right now, it’s much easier to accept what you’re dealing with.
Let’s take an example of a difficult situation people face every day. Especially for people like us, here in Los Angeles…
You got in a car accident.
Someone cuts you off… you slam into them… and now your car is destroyed.
That’s just terrible, no matter how you slice it.
Even worse. Let’s say you can’t afford a new car right away.
Maybe you have to borrow one from a friend or family member. Or maybe you’re stuck taking the bus for a while.
What could you possibly have to be grateful for?!
Let’s start small (or should I say big)…
But really! It’s easy to overlook that in such an upsetting situation, but you made it out alive! And you might not have…
You’re alive and well enough to take the bus or borrow a car. That’s something to be incredibly grateful for.
And maybe you find out how many people really care about you when you have to ask for rides.
Or find out that spending the extra hour on the bus gives you time to read that book you’ve always wanted to read.
It’s obvious this is a difficult situation. So it’s healthy to have a bunch of negative emotions and challenges to work through. But even as you cope with the upsetting aspects, there is always something to be grateful for.
And as you center on what you have to be grateful for, you start to accept that this is where you are.
Of course you’re not pleased about your situation, but there are good sides too…
And so you’re ok. And you’ll make it through to easier times. And you don’t have to rail against your situation anymore, because it’s not all bad.
And with that acceptance of your situation, you begin to feel at peace. And then you’re able to pick yourself up and start your process towards healing from the hard times.
You’re grateful to just be where you are.
And What About The Really Good Times?
Being grateful is a great tool in difficult times, but what about when life is good? How can it help you then?
As easy as it can be to dwell in the hard times, it can be just as hard to rejoice in the easy times.
Life has some amazing moments to offer. But sometimes they happen quietly, and when you least expect them.
Sometimes, it’s not the day of the big award or the party you’ve been so looking forward to.
Sometimes it’s the quiet walk on a summer’s night when it’s still warm out at 10pm. Or the time you play a game with your friends and laugh until it hurts. Or call your mom complaining about waking up sick, just to have her drive over with soup when you least expect it.
Sometimes the most beautiful moments in your life happen when you don’t see it coming.
When you’ve practiced being grateful, you can’t help but truly savor the good times.
You hold on tightly to how delightful each simple moment is, and feel all the wonders it has to offer.
You get to cherish the tiny times when life is perfect, and really feel how splendid they are.
Being Grateful Affects Your Life, Not The Other Way Around
Regardless of your age, regardless of your life experiences, even regardless of how much or little you have, being grateful will uplift your life every day. (Again, this has been proven by science. How cool?!)
No one is immune to bad or good times. No one’s life is perfect or ruined.
Being grateful uplifts your life every day, and there is always something to be grateful for.