In Hebrew school we are taught the Modeh Ani, thanking G-d for the fact he has allowed us to wake up to a new day. I remember being in school and singing this song as part of the morning prayers. But today I have lost that discipline of waking up and being thankful I’m alive. I usually wake up to my alarm clock and walk into the shower still half asleep. I get something to eat, check my email, and head out for another day. I forget to be thankful for being alive, for the hot water that seamlessly comes out of my shower, for the breakfast I eat, and many other instances in my day. But expressing gratitude for what we have can greatly improve our lives, and as soon as we stop to give thanks for what we have, we will begin to see the difference it makes. Here are 3 reasons why.
- Improve Relationships
Last Shabbat, we were at my in-law’s house and my father-in-law asked for a moment to speak. He told us how grateful he was for us being there as well as how thankful he was to my mother-in-law for preparing such a beautiful meal. All in attendance felt a sense of being cared for and for being important in his life. At that moment, my father-in-law was not only grateful but truly expressed it.
Expressing gratitude for those whom you love and even those who help in any way makes the day a little better, allows for them to feel significant and know that you truly appreciate the action or even the time spent together. Doing this creates a sense of positive reinforcement, reminding them that you truly were present to their actions.
- Improve Happiness
There are many studies that show that being consciously grateful each day can improve symptoms of depression and create an overall sense of increased happiness. Positive psychology teaches that gratitude helps develop a stronger sense of self as well as internal strength for when times get tough. A study in the “Journal of Happiness” even suggested that those who journal about what they are thankful for have a greater sense of happiness than those who don’t.
So when people ask the question: “What’s the secret to happiness?” The answer could just be as simple as being grateful for what you have.
- Improve Health
As mentioned before, just the reduction of some of the stress in our lives can help improve your overall health tremendously, but there are more health benefits to gratitude. WebMD reported that gratitude breeds optimism and there are many studies that link optimism to a better immune system. The same article states that people who are more optimistic have better outcomes when going into surgery.
Better sleep is another positive effect of being thankful. Instead of worrying when you go to bed about the things you don’t have or are going through, remember to count the blessings you do have that many people in the world struggle for.
We spend tons of money on vitamins and diets and even on the latest workout fad, but improving our health can be as simple as being grateful for the things we have. Judaism is filled with prayers for gratitude, from the Modeh Ani to one for seeing a rainbow. Whether you recite them on a daily basis, or use a journal to write down what you are thankful for remember that gratitude can you improve your relationships, your health, and ultimately your overall happiness. With that, let me express my gratitude to you for taking the time to read this article. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you on twitter, @yigaladato.