Gratitude, the Emotion that Can Radically Improve Your Life

By Susan "Honey" Good

I believe every day should be Gratitude Day, (It's an actual holiday that occurs each September.) While the official nature of this holiday reminds us to reflect on all the wonderful aspects of our lives, we should always be aware of our riches—and I don’t mean the material ones. 

Are you a grateful person? If you are, you know the benefits of living a daily life feeling grateful and appreciative are endless. That’s because the greatest gifts a mother (and in my case, a new age grandmother as well) leaves her children and “grands” is what she leaves them in their heads. Gratitude is one those gifts, and it is a boundless and infinite emotion.

If you are fortunate enough, dear readers, to feel grateful for the little things in life—and I don’t mean a fancy new possession or an impressive promotion at work—you are blessed and you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If, on the other hand, you are oblivious to the sunlight on a glorious day, or take the sweet waitress for granted who went above and beyond as she served you at lunch, it’s time to pause, take note and readjust your values. I promise you that you will reap untold satisfaction. And it’s never too late to incorporate a new skill into your mindset, especially one that will enrich your life. 

And take a moment to think about your grands, a generation that’s at risk for becoming entitled. As new age grandmothers, let’s use our inner beauty to teach them about the importance of gratitude and appreciation on an emotional level rather than a materialistic level.

For those of you who take life for granted, you can use Gratitude Day to reflect on the benefits of gratitude.  But more significantly, you can try to make this a habit, because grateful people have stronger immune systems, sleep better, feel more alive, experience more positive emotions and have a greater ability to express compassion and kindness to others. I hope these facts are compelling enough to motivate you to embrace this transformative emotion.   

And for those of you who are lucky enough to already have the remarkable, and oh-so-beneficial “grateful gene”--pass it along through your actions and discussions with your grands.

I am well aware that we all have hard times. I have, indeed, had mine. But I know through my personal experiences that having the ability to feel even a tiny bit of gratitude for all the other things in my life has helped me weather these storms.  

How to get started?  Here are my three top ideas on how you can integrate gratitude into your life on a daily basis.

  1. Gift yourselves and your grands with a festive Gratitude Jar. Every time you or your grands feel a moment of gratitude, write it on a slip on paper and put it in the jar. On visits, compare notes with your grands.
  2. Keep a journal. A saleswoman by the name of Sue helped me in more ways than one when she fitted me with my first pair of shoes after I had a cast on my leg removed. She gave me powerful piece of advice: “I keep a pen and pad of paper on my nightstand. Before getting out of bed each morning I write down one to three reasons I feel grateful.”
  3. Be cognizant of all the people in your life. Say thank you with a big smile to the person who serves you your coffee and step up those meaningful warm hugs to family and friends. You’ll make others happy, and you will feel wonderful because of the way you are more connected to them.

When you are in doubt, or have had a particularly challenging day, remember these astonishing facts and remind yourself why it’s better to live gratefully. 

  1. Overall positive emotions can add up to seven years to your life.
  2. Grateful people will have ten percent fewer stress related illnesses.
  3. Grands that are grateful are more likely to get 20% better grades.
  4. Forge more satisfying relationships with others and you will be better liked.
  5. Grateful people have thirteen percent fewer arguments. 

Channel Gratitude Day year-round, dear readers. Show your gratitude to others as I am showing mine to you with this: You are the reason I pen my thoughts, because the fact that you read my musings makes me very happy—and I am deeply grateful to all of you.

And as you strive to bring gratitude into your lives, remember these words from the renowned Greek philosopher Epictetus. "He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." 

Editor's note: This story was originally published in September 2016.