How can we keep gratitude alive?

Gratitude - the attitude towards happiness and better relationships

What many associate with spirituality should also be integrated into everyday life completely independently of religion: gratitude. Ragnhild Struss reveals why a grateful attitude has an extremely positive effect on our well-being and how you can train it.

What is really annoying you today? The traffic situation in the morning? The small-scale task in the job? Or a certain person in your life with whom it is always difficult to communicate? Many of us are very aware of what is not going so well, what is still missing and what is disturbing the current situation. However, with this focus of attention, you are adding disproportionate weight to the negative in your life, which can result in bad mood, dissatisfaction, and subdued energy. Because what we concentrate on in life, we unconsciously also “feed” it. You can take advantage of the opposite effect if you implement an all-changing attitude to life: gratitude! Actively directing your own focus away from the negative and towards the positive, to hidden potentials and to abundance instead of lack, will promote these aspects in your life and make you feel better. Yes, the term “gratitude” may sound trite and may seem inappropriate to particularly independent, individualistic types. But from a psychological point of view, gratitude is almost something of a character trait - and it has a huge impact on our mental health. The good news: We can learn to be grateful.

Does gratitude have anything to do with religion?

Gratitude is defined as "a positive feeling or attitude in recognition of a material or immaterial gift that one has received or will receive". In fact, gratitude is a central part of the world's religions: saying “thank you” is practically the shortest prayer. Thanking God with worship is common to all of these religions and is reflected in religious texts, teaching content and traditions. Despite this clear connection, however, there is gratitude by no means restricted to religious contextsbut can be seen and cultivated as a bridge for feeling positive emotions completely independently of belief. So you can feel the nice feeling for a number of things: other people, the earth, the daily food or your own body, but also for less obvious things such as failures, because we can learn from them.

Positive effects of gratitude

Interestingly, psychologists don't see gratitude as a passing behavior, but actually as a character trait. People who have more of this characteristic feel better all along the line: They are happier, suffer less from depression or stress, are more satisfied with their life and their social relationships. Furthermore is hers Resilience more pronounced, i.e. their ability to deal with difficult phases and to come out of them stronger. Grateful people are also better at confronting their problems, taking responsibility and making positive changes themselves. Apparently, gratitude has traits of all personality one of the strongest mental health relationships! Last but not least, a pronounced attitude of gratitude has a positive effect on one's own health, especially that of the heart, and it reliably prevents sleep disorders.

From a spiritual point of view, according to David R. Hawkins and Michaela Bach, it can be assumed that different emotions have different vibrational frequencies, which is reflected in their own charisma. With this assumption, gratitude is definitely an inner one Condition with a very high frequency: Other people are attracted by the corresponding charisma than is the case with lower-vibrating emotions.

Not only for the grateful person themselves, but also for their own social relationships this trait has positive effects. Studies have shown that gratitude increases one's own altruism: Those who feel this way are more generous towards other people and, for example, are more willing to donate to a good cause. At the same time, you can also create this effect in others if you meet them with gratitude: The other person feels seen and valued by showing gratitude and wants to reciprocate. Experiments have shown that people are much more likely to buy again in a store if the seller or the store thanks them after their first purchase. These relationships can be transferred to all relationships that we would like to improve - whether between work colleagues, in a partnership, in friendships or in the family. Treating other people with appreciation and gratitude makes us feel good AND puts our counterpart in a mood in which they would like to give something back. This is how a positive domino effecton the basis of which our relationships can flourish.

How to Cultivate a Grateful Attitude

You can learn gratitude and gradually turn it into a trait. Psychologists have found that just a few minutes a day devoted to developing a grateful attitude can lead to a considerable increase in happiness and mental and physical health. The following Exercises give you suggestions on how to become a grateful person.

1. The classic: the gratitude diary

Among various measures to increase gratitude, this method has shown the greatest long-term effects in studies. It is now so well known that you can buy special “gratitude diaries” in stores for this purpose - in principle, however, any normal notebook can be used for this. The simple guide: Every day, write three things that you are grateful for. Subjects with whom this was tested scored more and more points on the happiness scale over time. About six months after the start of the gratitude diary, the greatest successes were recorded - so sticking to it is particularly worthwhile with this exercise! The effect is easy to understand: By reflecting on things that we perceive as positive on a daily basis, we train ourselves to perceive the good more easily. In this way, we not only recognize long-term positive things faster, but also establish a feeling of abundance on the basis of all the aspects already noted, for which we feel gratitude.

2. For a short-term push: a letter of gratitude and a visit

If you would like to feel a pleasant feeling of gratitude immediately, which is very clearly reflected in your own happiness (and that of another person!), You can try this method. As you do this, think of someone you are grateful to and write them a letter expressing your gratitude. Even just writing such a document leads to a happy feeling - even if this letter is never sent or handed over. However, in order to share the joy and appreciation with the other person, it is advisable to also send the letter to the recipient. The greatest positive effect for both sides is when you use it deliver personally - no wonder, as this expresses unmistakable appreciation. Give yourself a jolt and give it a try! You and the recipient will feel completely inspired and connected weeks later.

3. The instant relationship improver in everyday life: say thank you

At first glance, it may sound natural to many that you thank your fellow human beings in everyday interactions when they hold the door open, hand you the salt or pay you a compliment. But even people who have been brought up to be polite can in reality sometimes - especially in hectic phases and in close relationships - let the expression of thanks slip. This often happens in partnerships after the first phase of being in love is over and we no longer constantly strive to present ourselves from our best side. But even under one roof with the family or in a team at work it can happen that the manners are sometimes rougher than we actually intended. Whatever relationship you want to improve: Be consciously aware of things throughout the day for which you are grateful to the other person - and also verbalize it by specifically thanking her. Pay attention again to things that you take for granted and speak to them. “Thank you for taking out the trash (always)!”, “Thank you for showing me consideration and turning the music down when I get home!” Or “Thank you for taking care of the task, the I found it difficult! ”give your counterpart the wonderful feeling of being seen and valued. In this way, you start a positive spiral that can also improve relationships that seem to be stuck.

4. On digging for the overlooked: the “what if ...?” Scenario

In this exercise, you use your imagination to put yourself in a state in which it suddenly becomes much clearer again what is positive in and about your life. Ask yourself, “What if I lost everything overnight? What would I miss most? ”Those who are not afraid of this and want to formulate the question even more emphatically can also imagine that they will have to die tomorrow or in a month:“ What else would I definitely want to do or with whom I would mean want to spend the remaining time? ”Such “What if ...?” Scenarios show us our transience - but not in a frightening sense, but with the effect that we finally appreciate what we have already had all along. You may notice how grateful you are for your cozy apartment, which you would miss terribly - even if you sometimes complain that it is too small. Or you notice how much you actually love your annoying brother or stressful mother. You might also be grateful for little things, like your nice bike ride to work or the way the morning light falls through your bedroom window. Facing finitude is a powerful tool for realizing the value of the current situation and feeling a deep, fulfilling gratitude.

5. For advanced skiers: find the “Silver Linings”

“Not the lucky ones are grateful. It is the grateful who are happy. "(Francis Bacon)

Admittedly, in some situations it is difficult to feel gratitude because everything seems to be going wrong and we suffer a lot from grief, pressure or loneliness, for example. This is to be taken seriously and you don't have to artificially display an “Actually, I can be grateful!” Attitude during these phases. However, history has shown that time and again people in the most adverse circumstances have succeeded in establishing a certain optimism or an attitude of gratitude for the little that was left to them. As described above, this ability is also closely linked to resilience. Try to find something positive even in absolutely negative-looking situations - Incidentally, called "Silver Linings" in English, after the silver-colored edges of rain clouds, behind which the sun waits. If you acquire the attitude that life works FOR you, not AGAINST you, then in difficult situations there could also be opportunities for learning, for personal development, for mobilizing undreamt-of strengths or for leaving the comfort zone and the associated growth. Ask yourself: “For which lesson, for which hint or for which hidden possibility of shaping my future, could I be grateful if I assume that there is something positive hidden in it?” You can also ask yourself questions such as “What is still good in my current situation? ”,“ What else is positive? ”or“ What do I still have, even if I have lost something else? ”. You are not supposed to deny what is not going well or hurting, but you create a “light at the end of the tunnel” for yourself, which gives you strength to carry on, as well as an opportunity to positively reinterpret your “fate”.

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of all virtues, but also the mother of all." (Cicero)

Anyone who manages to acquire an attitude of gratitude in the long term has the best prerequisites for a happy life and positive social relationships. So it is worthwhile if you integrate rituals for gratitude into your everyday life and share your appreciation with other people - give it a try!

The most important basis for professional success and personal satisfaction is a lifestyle that is in harmony with your personality. Knowing them is the first step. With our free Trial test we offer you the opportunity to walk it and get a first glimpse of yourself.