In simple terms, gratitude is an emotion that you feel when you’re thankful for something that affects your life in a good way. It’s an expression of appreciation but it goes far beyond that definition. Before you can truly be grateful, you must first recognize that something good has happened in your life. Then, you must understand that it happened due to some external source not because of something you did.

Major life events trigger this emotion but they’re not the only things that make you feel gratitude. You can be grateful for anything, including something as simple as receiving a kind word from a stranger. Therefore, gratitude is also appreciating what you have and noticing the little things in life that make you happy instead of taking them for granted.

Even something bad or negative can have a positive outcome that has you expressing gratitude. Imagine being in a serious car accident that totaled your vehicle, but you and your passengers escaped unharmed. You would certainly feel gratitude for your safety even though you lost something of value.

Being thankful for the positive outcome is beneficial whereas, being upset for the loss of your vehicle doesn’t help anything. In fact, there are many benefits associated with expressing gratitude such as the ones below.

Expressing gratitude:

  • Strengthens relationships
  • Eases symptoms of depression
  • Relieves stress
  • Increases energy
  • Improves sleep
  • Builds self-esteem
  • Inspires you to seek out your dreams
  • Reduces negative feelings towards others

Gratitude is a very strong emotion that creates positive energy. This positive energy reaches out into the Universe and encourages others to be more positive but people express gratitude in different ways.

Here are the two major ways people express gratitude:

  1. Some people only express gratitude when something big happens in their life. Perhaps they recovered from a major illness or they finally receive that big promotion they’ve wanted for so long. They’re very thankful anytime a big event takes place in their life that brings them joy and happiness. However, they tend to take the little things in life and necessities such as shelter, clothing, and food for granted.
  2. Others feel a sense of gratitude every day. They’re grateful for having plenty of food to eat, nice homes to live in and clothes to wear. They’re thankful for the sunshine, the rain, the flowers that bloom in their garden and all the little things life has to offer. They’re also grateful for family, friends, good health and for life itself. They may even express gratitude for simply waking up in the morning.

The point is that you have control over how and when you express gratitude. This is not an emotion that comes and goes without warning. Instead, you can choose to feel gratitude anytime, anywhere and for any reason. All you need to do is be aware of the big and small things that happen in your life and how these things make you feel.

For example, when you wake up in the morning and hear birds chirping outside your window does it make you smile and feel happy? Do you express gratitude for having this joy in your life or do you take it granted? It may be a little thing but if it brings you pleasure, then perhaps you should feel thankful for the opportunity to hear their beautiful, cheerful songs.

Practicing gratitude every day certainly has many benefits and there are many things to be thankful for when you take a close look at your life. What are you feeling grateful for today?