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Gratitude – more than just a trend


For evolutionary reasons, humans tend to pay more attention to threats and negative events than to positive ones. Paying particular attention to rustling in the bushes, and thus to a potential danger, ensured survival. Now we have left these times long behind us, whereby our brain still follows these stone age structures. Find out how this is related to gratitude, how gratitude enriches your life, and which ways there are to practice it.

Questioning what we take for granted

Humans are creatures of habit, which is why we take many things for granted. It doesn’t matter whether it’s something banal like a new car or important like your life partner. But all these things are not self-evident, because our resources and possibilities always depend on the conditions in which we grow up and live.

While for some it is quite normal to go on vacation three times a year, others have to save money to be able to do so every two years. Globally, even more extreme comparisons can be targeted. In Somalia, for example, half the people suffer from acute food insecurity, while over 50% of Germans are overweight and about 11 million tons of food end up in the garbage every year. Against this background, food usually seems much more valuable to us than we perceive it to be in everyday life.

What a grateful attitude causes

Gratitude is an inner attitude and approach to life, to become aware of one’s own credit side and to appreciate it. This brings more benefits than may be suspected at first. Mental health and well-being are enormously promoted, because in moments of gratitude it happens a lot in the brain. For one thing, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released, which triggers feelings of happiness and activates the reward system. The hypothalamus also becomes active. This brain region is occasionally responsible for the sleep-wake rhythm, the sensation of pain and influences our feelings. Thus, a grateful attitude can contribute to the relief of pain and sleep disorders.

In addition, a positive effect has been shown with regard to depression, anxiety, anger and stress. The series of these beneficial effects has been proven in various studies. In addition, the quality of our relationships is improved, because gratitude for something as well as mutual appreciation connects. So that you too can enrich your life in this way, we will show you some incentives and tips for successful implementation in the following section.

Gratitude in everyday life

There are several ways to achieve a grateful attitude, or to put it another way, to train it. Repeatedly focusing on the positive side of life and enjoying the small moments trains the brain to automatically pay more attention to these things. So you will increasingly develop an optimistic attitude, making it even easier for you to recognize the aspects for which you are grateful. Here we have 3 ideas for you to implement in everyday life.

Gratitude Journal

Grab a notebook and write down a few times a week what you are grateful for that day. These can be very small moments, such as someone smiling at you or holding the door open for you, or that you have a job that you like to do, or that you spent a great afternoon with your kids on the playground. Anything goes. There is so much to be happy about – you just have to recognize it. There are also some apps for a gratitude journal on your smartphone.

Top 10

Think calmly about what you are fundamentally grateful for. This is more about something big, deep and essential. For example, it is not a matter of course in this world to be able to live in peace and to have enough clean drinking water. According to a study on value orientation by the Federal Ministry of Research and Education in Germany, a large proportion considers family and an independent and self-determined life to be particularly important.

Create your Top 10 gratitude list. It is not necessary to compose and rank the list according to priority. Appreciation is not to be measured here, but to be recorded. Keep your list and take a look at it from time to time so as not to lose sight of the big picture.

Perceiving the moment

Now we make a U-turn, from the fundamental things to the small moments. You can do this mindfulness exercise almost anywhere, for example, when you’re waiting for the bus. Instead of scrolling through your newsfeed, try to fully perceive the moment with all your senses. Can you hear birds chirping, church bells ringing, or the wind roaring? Can you feel the sun’s rays or raindrops on your skin? Concentrate on the here and now, because this moment is unique and fleeting, you will not experience it a second time in the same way.

People tend to replay the past over and over again in their minds or imagine future scenarios. However, we cannot change what has been and we never have full control over what is to come. So let yourself go with each moment, accept the here & now and so you will surely find something in this situation that brings joy and gratitude in you.

Integrating gratitude into your life doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it’s well worth it. Just try out a way to implement it and learn to focus on the positive instead of the negative. We have long been immune from the saber-toothed tiger. So it’s time to give the outdated thought patterns a little push to the sunny side of life ☀️
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