What does it mean to be grateful?
At its root, it’s a dual action, a combination of appreciating the good things in life and recognizing that someone else is responsible for them.
This year has provided no shortage of things to decry. There’s no need to list them here, but for evidence of the year’s negative impacts on the American psyche, see the spiking anxiety depression rates around the country. Suicide, too, has become an even greater concern — the pandemic and its economic fallout in particular have pushed many to the brink and beyond.
But getting back to gratitude, researchers are uncovering links between feeling grateful and expressing gratitude and other positive emotions, including joy and optimism. This can also correlate with greater sense of purpose in life, higher quality, mutually supportive relationships, and lower levels of negative emotions including shame and depression.
A simple “thank you” to health care workers or anyone in your life who has done you a kindness may not help you start sleeping better. But it may make them feel seen, heard and appreciated. Supporting others by affirmation encourages them to support others in a similar manner. Furthermore, a deliberate effort to remember the good things in life on a regular basis can and does have significant health outcomes in the long run.
Above all, remembering that this time is temporary and shall pass should encourage us to look ahead with optimism. As we approach the end of the year, difficult though it has been, there is always something to be grateful for.
The Toldeo Blade