What is gratitude
Gratitude turns what we have into enough”,-
is a wise gratitude quote whose author cannot be traced, but who managed to pinpoint the essence of gratitude in just a few words.
Only have a dilapidated hut? Be grateful, thousands and thousands of people don’t.
Just had a 2 egg breakfast? Thank God for that, millions of people are undernourished.
Have a job, that brings no pleasure, is a mundane routine that wastes your life away? What a lucky man you are, tens of millions of people are jobless.
Gratitude is a choice. So is happiness. In this piece we will look at origins of gratitude, scientific grounds of health benefits of gratitude, gratefulness concepts in different religions and will provide some examples of thankfulness.
But let’s first look at the definition of Gratitude. What is Gratefulness about?
Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation a person or a living creature feels towards another living creature, fate or higher forces for an action or a physical asset, that has been given to a person outside of contractual agreements or legal obligations – out of love, empathy, friendship, altruism, philanthropy or other good intentions.
Gratefulness in religion
Many religions world over have gratefulness as the fundamental notion of the system of beliefs. Starting with centuries-old tribal traditions, many ancient peoples in Africa practiced rituals, that provided physical offerings to Gods accompanied by spiritual dancing and thankful prayers.
Similarly, many Oriental beliefs and religious doctrines had gratitude as an integral part of their paradigm of values.
Gratitude in Christianity
Christians all over the world pray to a selfless God, who sacrificed himself to save humanity. So the sense of gratefulness is embedded in the very foundation of Christian virtues. It is the core of all other virtues, which take its positive attitude and appreciation from the feeling of gratitude.
Thanksgiving tradition is part of the Western culture and many Christians, alongside followers of other religions, partake in this tradition of saying prayers and citing thanks to God at the festive table full of food and symbolizing abundance.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
– 1 Chronicles 16:34
Being thankful as part of Judaism religion
Gratitude is also at the core of Judaism, as the followers thank God, who is the ultimate provider of all things in life. Judaist teachings have an abundance of thoughts about being grateful for what you already have, as opposed to the way of being constantly dissatisfied with what you lack.
Who is rich? Those who rejoice in their own portion
– Pirke Avot 4:1
The Islamic concept of gratefulness
The Quran preaches gratitude to God as one of the most guaranteed ways to ultimately get to paradise. Islamic sacred texts indoctrinate, that those who practice a grateful attitude will reap even more benefits. The religion has it, that Islam followers are blessed with unconditional rewards for being thankful.
If you are grateful, I will surely give you more and more”
– Ibrahim 14:7
Health Benefits of Gratitude
A myriad of scholars took the power of gratitude as the basis for their scientific research studies.
Positive psychology considers gratitude as one of the mighty elements of a happier human.
One of the most extensive research on the effects of Gratitude was done by 2 professors of psychology, Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami and Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California. They undertook a series of studies from 2000 till 2011 whose subjects looked at the effects of grateful practices and attitudes on subjective wellbeing as well as its correlation with the brain.
During a 10-week experiment 3 groups of students had to recollect in writing at the end of each week:
- Things that impacted their lives without emotional connotation.
- Events or things, they were grateful for.
- Events of things, they were displeased with.
The study concluded, that people, who were focusing on things that are worth being grateful for, were more optimistic, exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians, compared to those, who recollected the unpleasant events at the end of each week.
The Wikipedia article on Gratitude cites a body of scientific research and empirical findings, which prove the practice of Gratitude having the effects of reducing stress and depression, elevating happiness levels and overall satisfaction with life.
How to Practice Gratitude
Gratefulness may come as part of the upbringing practices from childhood or be the inherited positive trait of the character of a human. But positive psychology offers many techniques, that are designed to develop the attitude of gratefulness in those practicing such methods.
Below are the Gratefulness practices for every day does of happiness
Say “Thank you”
Whenever appropriate or whenever a “thank you” would be taken well in your daily life. Go full-fledged British politeness. The more we articulate the words of gratitude, the more we feel appreciative of small things filling our lives with goodness.
Think “Thank you”
Thank somebody or something in your life, that you are grateful to have. The Law of attraction has it, that people attract what they think. Be grateful for what you have in your life in your thoughts to be in a position to create positive vibes and attract positive events in your life.
Write a “Thank you letter”
This mighty positive psychology technique is so empowering and healing due to the concentration of positivity in one short period of time. It takes 10-20 minutes to write a letter of appreciation to someone, who has positively contributed to your life. By practicing this potent gratitude exercise, a person focuses on the great events, that happened to him or her goes back to the kindness exhibited by another person, finds the right words to express all the well-deserved gratefulness. During this short period, such a person is filled with love, creating dominant positive vibrations overtaking the space around.
The state of meditation suggests acute awareness and utter focus on the present moment with little preconceptions or connotation filters from the outside world. While peacefulness and mindfulness are usually the centerpieces of such sessions, gratitude can also metamorphose harmoniously into such practices.
For all religious people, prayer is the acme of meditation, it expresses both gratitude for all the things in one’s life combines with hope for other blessings for self and family.
Enumerate your blessings
Take the time to list your blessings – it can be in writing, mentally or even as a song in the shower. Have your ritual in the shape and form you are comfortable with and thank people, events, higher forces for the good in your life. One of the things to observe whilst counting blessings – is the regularity of such exercise. Daily, weekly or once a month – make sure to allocate the time to go through all the great happenings on your path.
Keep a gratitude journal
This gratefulness practice takes discipline but produces so much serotonin, that it may be addictive. To keep a gratitude journal, one needs to set aside a specific time regularly to put down all things worth appreciation. People practicing mindfulness techniques and positive thinking regularly may find, that oftentimes goals from visualization board travel to the gratitude journal.
Importance of Gratitude in life
Oh, yes. If you mean it, a simple thank you may be translated into dollars.
In a study conducted by scientists from the University of Pennsylvania a group of fund-raisers, who were called around with a “thank you” message from the director of annual giving, made 50% more fundraising calls than the control group, who were exposed to a regular script.
Gratitude is a dominant motivator.
“A test of positive reinforcement of customers” was held back in 1976 in a small town in Texas. The controlled field research was held with 440 customers of a jewelry store. Clients of the store were divided into 3 groups: 1. received a call with a thank you message. 2. received a call with a message about sales. 3. did not receive a call.
Overall a test month saw an increase in sales of 27%, with group A contributing most: those thanked over the phone demonstrated a 70% increase in sales, those informed about the sales fared worse with just a 30% increase and the control group saw no increase at all.
Let that sink in. Customers, who were THANKED showed a higher increase in sales than those who were advised on SALES.
Yep, gratitude is currency after all.
Gratefulness can be expressed in a million ways. It is good to feel appreciative of your friends, foes, strokes of luck and life lessons. Being grateful brings further blessings to your life.
What are the examples of gratitude in life?
When a waitress greets a client with a broad smile, months after a previous visit when she left that generous tip and escorts her to the best table in the restaurant.
When a toddler keeps thanking parents for every little thing as the granny just read the fairy tale on the importance of gratitude.
When your neighbor hangs a package full of fresh apples onto your fence with a note to have a great day bursting with vitamins!
When a classmate lies for you to your parents, because you covered his back on multiple times when he sneaked out to his GF.
When his virtual friend keeps liking his most boring Facebook posts, as he commented supportively on the comment important for him before.
When you go to the lengths of getting your sick granddad’s favorite ice cream from another state, having driven 2 hours each way.
When she curls up in his arms after a long day at work, feeling safe as if he was the embodiment of the NATO in flesh and blood.
When a police officer lets you go without a fine when he finds out you were speeding to get a just-rescued cat with a broken paw to the vet soonest.
When he clumsily makes her a favorite omelet for breakfast, even though grated cheese is all over the kitchen now.
Gratitude, in most cases, costs nothing.
Gratitude, in all cases, brings a sense of fulfillment and joy.
Attitude of gratitude
Seneca’s quote summarizes the benefits of an appreciative attitude:
True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing. The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A man is a content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.
By practicing the attitude of gratitude daily, people create positive vibrations, that further attract positive events, people and things in our lives.
The glass is half full is a choice.
Being grateful for the glass half full somehow leads to a still fuller glass.
Thank you, Weave readers, for finishing off this piece. We hope your life will now be filled with gratefulness and your gratitude journal will be the course of joy and fulfillment for you and your family. Now is a good time to start thanking people for making your life that half-full glass.
How about a week of #ThankYouChallenge to kick off your gratitude practice sessions: thank one person a day, starting with your top life inspiration? Let us know how it went for you in the comments below!
Be grateful with Weave App
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