Benefits of Gratitude

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  –  John F. Kennedy

November is upon us.  We here at PAL love to take this quickly passing season, before the hustle and bustle of the holidays begins, and truly reflect on what we are thankful for over the past year.  Our blessings here are many, but like all of us over the past year, there have been some days that it has been harder to find the good in a world that seems to be going through a dark time.  We had to stop and ask ourselves, “What is the true importance of this time of thankfulness, of gratefulness?”  This is what we came up with…

“Gratitude involves noticing the goodness in the world, but it doesn’t mean being blind to the tough stuff or the mess that can get all of us from time to time. Gratitude makes sure that in the midst of the things that serve up a good dose of negative feelings, we don’t lose sight of the good.”

We hear and share stories almost every day at PAL of cops working in our community to bring goodness to hard situations.  We work with youth who are looking to spread more goodness out in the world as they reach and attain goals they never thought possible.  We have so much to be grateful for and we would love to share those things with you in the coming weeks.

Keep an eye on our posts, blogs and other social media channels to learn what we have to be thankful for and please share what you are thankful for as well!  There is a wealth of benefits to being grateful and showing your thanks.  Here is a quick list of some of those perks, as well as a few ideas of how you can show your gratitude as well.*

Benefits of Gratitude

Gratitude strengthens our connections with people.

Gratitude is an acknowledgement that something meaningful has been done for us by someone else. It’s an open-hearted, deliberate recognition of the generosity of the giver.  Showing gratitude for the things in our lives stops us from being seen as ‘entitled,’ which generally weakens relationships.

Gratitude reinforces generous behavior.

Gratitude reinforces generosity from the giver and from the receiver. When there is an open display of gratitude in our relationships, both people are more likely to repeat the giving, and the open-hearted receiving. The effect of this is not only from person to person, but can ripple into the world.

It increases feelings of security and connectedness.

Gratitude helps us notice the good that comes from outside of ourselves. We see the good in the world and in the people around us, increasing our feelings of security and connectedness.

Gratitude keeps the feel-goods around for longer. 

Positive emotions tend to slide off us way too quickly. Gratitude lets us hang on to the positive for longer, and celebrate the good in our lives that we might otherwise move on too quickly from.

It squeezes out negative feelings.

It’s impossible to feel grateful and negative at the same time. The more space gratitude is allowed to take up, the more it will expand itself and make way for other positive emotions – connection, happiness, appreciation, joy. More good feelings means less room for the toxic ones.


Ideas on How to Practice Gratitude

Three things a day, for 21 days.

For 21 days, write down three things that had happened in the previous 24 hours that you’re grateful for. They can be things in the world or things that have happened in yours, and they can be as big or as small as you want – the breeze on your skin when you walked, a warm bed to sleep in, coffee when you woke up. Doing this for 21 days will train your brain to look at the world in a different way. It will start to scan the world for positives instead of negatives.

Take a positive experience …

Whether it’s a text you received, or catching up with someone you like, find a positive experience and spend two minutes writing down every detail about it. Write them in list form, draw a picture, write a paragraph, anything, and keep it where you can see it to remind you of that experience.  As you remember positive experiences, your brain labels it as meaningful and the imprint in your brain deepens.

Write a thank you card, or verbally tell someone you really appreciate them.

Write a letter or a card to someone you’re thankful for. Or take a few minutes to tell a person exactly how much they mean to you and why.  The effect of this stays for months after the initial exercise. One of the changes were a greater sensitivity to gratitude. What this means is that noticing the good now makes it easier to notice the good later. The more good you notice, the happier you’ll be. It’s just the way it works, and practicing gratitude is a simple way to work it.