Gratitude: The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. (The Oxford Dictionary)
The message is clear: Gratitude is popular, it is good for you and we are better off expressing that often.
Gratitude has become a bit of a buzz word over the last few years. Walk into any self-respecting stationary shop and you will find at least one (if not ten) Gratitude Journals on its shelves. On Instagram you can find under #grateful a whopping 27.8 million (and counting) posts, with #grateful-with-namaste-hands, #gratitude and all imaginable word combinations all having tens of thousands tags. The message is clear: Gratitude is popular, it is good for you and we are better off expressing that often.
This obviously is nothing new. Already Cicero, Statesman and Philosopher of the Ancient Rome noted “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues, but the parent of all of the others.” Fast-forward few thousands year, several academic studies have confirmed there is a clear association between gratitude and higher levels of wellbeing. Greater resiliency in the face of adversity, better sleep and protection from stress are all linked to the ability to recognise and celebrate all the things we have in our lives to be appreciative for.
About a month ago I read an article that reminded me that it is however important to maintain a common sense attitude towards gratitude. As good as it is to be thankful, it should never be used as a justification towards any type of bad behaviour or situation. “Oh at least I can be grateful for having a roof over my head” might well be true (and something to genuinely be grateful for) but it does not make objectively bad situation better. And whilst something might be better than nothing, it can also be sensible to stop and think if that something is really needed. Maybe its absence can give space to something new and improved, something to be genuinely grateful for?
...it is however important to maintain a common sense attitude towards gratitude
For many of us 2018 was a bit of a funny year. Things might have started, got going - and then stopped. We might have had a lot of shifting, transforming and re-evaluations happening in our surroundings. The global climate, both in the literal and figurative sense, has not given us much reason to celebrate either.
Yet, we have made it so far in the year. Even if the year has felt like dragging your feet, this is the perfect time to sit down and reflect on what has happened. Write down the small and the big things of the year you are happy and grateful for, as they come to your mind. One reflection will lead you to another one and I would not be surprised if you find yourself having made more progress and more fun memories than you thought you had. Start writing that list, keep it going over the next few days and take your time to be grateful for every single item on it. It will do you good - it’s scientifically proven.
Elina writes about yoga and general wellbeing with some tips on how to live a more simple, sustainable life at On The Same Time Zone. Elina moved back to London in October 2017, after spending eight years on the Island of Cyprus in the East Med.