Have you done your Christmas shopping? Are you still wondering what to get for your loved ones? While this 2 minute video is somewhat a little bit too cheesy for some people, I think it does illustrate an important point about giving and gratitude that is so easy to overlook. While the characters may for some of us have over-exaggerated emotions, the sentiments they convey are so easy to take for granted.
The point is that it is incredibly easy to take for granted other people and all the things we enjoy and have access to around us. They appear ordinary and commonplace. With that sense of ordinariness comes a sense of entitlement and subconsciously feeling or thinking we somehow deserve or have earned everything we have. The reality is that most of the basic details of our existence, from the family we were born in, to the place, time and circumstances of our birth are completely out of our control. We had no say or choice in any of these fundamental things about who we are. But what if we could look at everything around us as a gift?
Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology in the United States, has spent many years researching the link between gratitude and wellbeing. He has been able to show from research that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression. He has also highlighted how when you practice gratitude you are less likely to feel stressed, envious or negative. Gratitude also has the effect of enabling you to be able to appreciate other people's accomplishments without feeling resentful that they have something you don't.
According to Professor Robert Emmons for gratitude to be effective it needs to cover 3 key areas:....
1. It should be specific: the power is in the detail. Just trying to say thank you is not enough. The more detailed and specific you can be the better. Being grateful in a vague and non-specific way has very little potential for real change. It is when we are confronted with the incredible privileges we have compared to many people around the world or even those we know who owing to poor health cannot enjoy the simple things we take for granted such as speaking, walking or even having a sense of taste and smell.
2. Surprise: the more you find things to be grateful for in unexpected places and people, the fresh and alive your gratitude will be.
3. Scarcity: what is scarce or unusual or what we won't have for much longer increases the value of gratitude in our lives. This is a challenge for us if our health is good and we live in relative prosperity. It is helpful reminder to ourselves how much we would miss these privileges if they were taken away from us. (And one day they will).
(For a fun 7 minute video bringing these three together do see How Actually Expressing Your Gratitude Can Be Beneficial To Your Mental Health).
Quoting from Professor Emmons:
"Gratitude is not just good medicine, though, a nice sentiment, a warm fuzzy feeling, or a strategy or tactic for being happier or healthier. It is also the truest approach to life. We did not create or fashion ourselves, and we did not get to where we are in life by ourselves. So living in gratitude is living in truth. It is the most accurate and honest approach to life."
So gratitude is not just something for Christmas, but a way of life to express everything we do.
Who do you need to express gratitude to?
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