Why being thankful matters

By Jane Babirye
On 6 November 2023 at 11:32

Until recently, I wasn’t particularly fond of avocados. I remember looking at my former housemate with disguise every time she was savouring the green fruit. Her love for it was so extreme that she replaced it with butter on bread. Her profound affection for it was so intense that she even substituted it for butter on her bread.

Thanks to my laziness and ‘hate’ for cooking, avocados are now my go to ‘dish’, as they accompany my everyday meal (omelette) so well, making it taste like ‘KFC’.

This article isn’t intended to make you fall in love with avocados like I did, nor is it meant to make you judge my laziness, instead it’s meant to encourage you to practice gratitude in all forms possible.

The lady who sells me the avocados is one, many of us would term as ‘poor’; given the job she does, where she does it from and her appearance while at her job.

However, there’s not a single day that she serves her customers without a smile. She smiles so wide that I sometimes wonder if she ever wishes to get out of that state (I buy the avocados mostly at night while coming from work, and during that time, she’s by the roadside with a toddler).

Mary (not real name) is the true meaning of what Roy T. Bennett said in the quote, “Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you accept it as a gift.”

How many of you out there are in better positions than Mary, but complain every single day about life being hard, how your parents didn’t do enough for you to have a good life, how you hate that job you have (meanwhile, you sit in an airconditioned room and a waterproof shelter), and so on and so forth?

Well, according to research, the more you practice the art of thankfulness, the more you have more to be thankful for.

Being thankful is not just a polite gesture; it has far-reaching benefits for individuals and society as a whole. We will look at some of the benefits it comes with.

Improved Mental Health: It is believed that expressing gratitude can lead to improved mental well-being. When we focus on the positive aspects of our lives and express gratitude for them, it reduces stress and anxiety. “Grateful people often experience higher levels of happiness and lower levels of depression,” says research.

Enhanced Relationships: Gratitude is a powerful tool in building and maintaining strong relationships, says experts. When we express thanks to others, it strengthens our connections and fosters a sense of trust. It’s a way of showing appreciation for the people in our lives and can lead to more meaningful and fulfilling relationships.

Increased Resilience: Gratitude can help individuals become more resilient in the face of adversity. When we are grateful for what we have, we are better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks. The act provides a positive perspective that helps us navigate difficult times with a more optimistic outlook.

Physical Health Benefits: Believe it or not, being thankful can have a positive impact on our physical health. Grateful individuals tend to engage in healthier behaviours like regular exercise and better sleep. These behaviours contribute to overall well-being and can lead to a longer, healthier life.

Improved Self-esteem: Gratitude can boost self-esteem and self-worth. When we recognize the good things in our lives, we are more likely to feel valued and competent. This self-assurance can lead to increased confidence and motivation to achieve personal goals.

On the flip side, being ungrateful can strain relationships, increase stress, reduce happiness, diminish mental resilience, and contribute to mental health problems. So, cultivate gratitude if you want to live a happier and healthier life both for yourself, and the society as a whole.