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Gratitude, in the simplest form, is a thankful appreciation for what one has.
It is a positive state of mind that focuses on what we already have, rather than what is lacking in life. It is the awareness that life isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always go the way we want it to go; but from a realistic perspective, there are always some good things in life that we can appreciate.
It’s a part of our evolution. We generally tend to return to a certain baseline level of happiness despite major positive or negative events in life. We adapt to them. This concept is called “hedonic adaptation”, and it is essential for our survival.
The downside of hedonic adaptation is that we also adapt to even the most wonderful things we have over time. Their subjective impact decreases over time, and we lose interest. There are many things in life that make our lives much better but eventually we don't even acknowledge their existence because we get used to them
That’s why we need to intentionally pay attention to the good things in life. In this way, we can reverse our adaptation, see the wonderful things as they are, and feel the power of gratitude.
Research shows that the practice of gratitude can change subjective wellbeing. Even a small act like listing a few things we are grateful for has an incredibly powerful effect on our mental health.
By paying attention to the things we are grateful for, we cultivate happiness, compassion, and kindness.
By being grateful, we cultivate a better life.
Each day, take 5-10 minutes and list the 5 things you’re grateful for. You can write just a couple of words or some long sentences if you like. The content of what you write and the way you express yourself does not matter as long as you are mindful when you’re writing it. If you intentionally pay attention, you’ll feel the benefits more.
You can add it to your daily routine, and either start or finish your day by listing those 5 things that make your life better. Within just a week, you will feel the difference in your outlook. Over time, being grateful will become a normal part of your life.
The reason it doesn’t come naturally to us is our adaptation. Although it's a vital part of our evolution, we adapt to even the most wonderful things and take them for granted.
We can reverse it with a simple practice called negative visualization. Take a look around and try to imagine how different your life would be if you didn’t have the things or the people you love. You don’t have to think about extreme negative situations. Just think about how your day would be different without them and recognize their positive impact on your life.
Practicing gratitude transforms your outlook upon life in overwhelming ways. Within just a couple of days, you will feel that noticing the good things will get easier. And over time, you will know in your heart that life is beautiful, no matter what happens.
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