The importance of gratitude

The importance of gratitude

When was the last time you really said thank you? Perhaps it was when you bought your morning coffee or someone held a door open for you. How often do you say thank you to your friends, family or colleagues, though? Lots of us have plenty of reasons to be grateful yet still focus on the negative aspects of life. It’s not a surprise that our capitalist culture has led to a feeling of always wanting more – when in reality we need to take stock and be grateful for what we already have.

Increasingly, I feel we’re all caught up in our own bubbles and forget the importance of respecting and appreciating each other. As much as you’d like to think you’re a lone ranger, the best things in life are through collaboration and we can achieve more when we work together. Being grateful of your fellow man and the tasks they have helped you with is definitely an underappreciated attribute in the modern world. Yet, acknowledging the contributions of others is a highly valued trait both for personal and business relationships. A successful business is still reliant on the relationships it creates and appreciating the work of others can help a business forge positive and meaningful connections.

Just last week, a campaign was set up by Polish migrants in the UK to encourage them to donate blood as a way of giving back to the country and raise awareness of their contribution to British society. Some Polish workers thought striking would be a better option to highlight their undervalued impact within the UK but this highlights how a lack of gratitude can have a large impact on people’s psyche.

There have been plenty of studies into the power of gratitude with many scholars concluding that showing gratitude is a positive psychological characteristic that can contribute to a person’s wellbeing and can improve your mood. If gratitude is proven to heighten your quality of life, should we be adding it to our to-do list alongside going to the gym and buying your greens? It all ties into appreciating the simple pleasures of life; something that can escape us from time to time. Our internet heavy lifestyles might have contributed to our lack of gratitude with products and entertainment available almost instantaneously from faceless corporations; having so much instantly available to us can leave us feeling entitled and with no need to ‘thank’.

This lack of gratitude is also evident in the remittance market – which is perhaps surprising given the industry is based on people helping each other. Global remittances have been transformed through advances in technology and online processes making it easier than ever to send money around the world. That’s a great thing, of course, for global communities but the ease with which people can send transfers seems to have led to a dehumanisation of the process, even between family members.

From conversations with our customers at Azimo we’ve discovered that the relationship between the sender and receiver of remittances is complex and often lacking empathy on both sides. Interestingly, those sending money home feel like their efforts and contributions are not being fully appreciated. Recipients also had a complex relationship with the money transfer process with many feeling their struggles ‘back home’ weren’t understood by those sending the money. This lack of empathy on both sides causes tension in these relationships, even between very close families, friends and communities.

Money is always a sensitive issue and its vital importance in day-to-day life cannot be overstated. However, sometimes it feels like we need to take a step back and remember the important things in life. If both parties involved within the money transfer showed more understanding towards the process then it’s likely the interaction would become less fraught. It’s important to remember the reason people work hard to send money home to friends and family is because they love and care about them. It’s human connections such as this that make the world go round so we should do everything we can to make these flow a little easier rather than treating the process as an obligatory ‘transaction’ that we don’t need to be grateful for.

I’ll hold my hands up as I’ve been guilty of not appreciating the things I have. I’ve found that a great method of embracing a more positive outlook on life is to make a daily list of everything you can be grateful for. Once you put yourself in the mind-set of focusing on the positive things you do have, you’ll be surprised how previous niggling worries and problems can disappear. So next time you’re in a bad mood, turn to some grateful thinking and you’ll be surprised what it can do for you.

Originally published on Huffington Post – 27/08/2015