Column: Gratitude improves our lives, mental health | Columnists
It is no surprise November is National Gratitude Month. Most of us make a special effort to set aside time for family and friends during the month of Thanksgiving and acknowledge what we are grateful for. However, outside of these specified times, gratitude is not always practiced. To gain a better understanding as to why, I asked several individuals how they define gratitude and why gratitude is so hard to practice. These conversations provided good information on gratitude, including common definitions and reasons why individuals may struggle with it. The common definitions of gratitude were to be thankful, to show appreciation, to be humble, to have respect, and to have a positive attitude. Some common reasons that were mentioned for why someone may struggle to show or practice gratitude were self-centeredness, being angry or resentful, arrogance, entitlement, anxiety and depression.
Gratitude plays a role in improving our lives and our mental health. The National Association of Mental Illness shows that gratitude has the ability to improve relationships and promote new connections. People who are grateful are more willing to be helpful and generous. Additionally, people who practice gratitude regularly are often more prone to forgiving others and avoid holding on to resentments.
Jayme Ackerman is the Residential Clinic Director with Volunteers of America.