The Power of Gratitude

gratitudeMany of us are taught as children to say thank you in exchange for receiving some thing or kind words, primarily under the guise of good manners.  A parent prods the response with “what do you say?” after the child receives a gift or words of praise.  Parents are helping the child establish the habit of giving thanks but often this becomes mostly a perfunctory or dutiful response.

It turns out there is a greater benefit to giving thanks than just observing social mores.  Giving thanks and, more importantly, feeling grateful for what you receive in life and appreciating the beauty around you is one of the best ways to improve your health and happiness.  There are numerous books and websites that discuss the value of gratitude and scientific studies provide proof as well.  Dr. Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California Davis, spent eight years of intensive research on this topic from a scientific perspective before summarizing his findings in a book.

gratitude2Incorporating feelings of gratitude into your life improves happiness, relationships, health and strength in dealing with tragedy and crisis.  Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean negative situations will never happen, but it does reduce the stress and improve resilience in dealing with adverse events.  Gratitude and ungratefulness are each states of mind, therefore we can choose which we want to experience.  We can choose gratitude by focusing on all that we have to be grateful for instead of what’s wrong in our life.  By doing so we are generating feelings of harmony and happiness which in turn attract more harmony and happiness into our life.

The perception that we have so many things to complain about and reasons to be unhappy is simply that… a perception.  If we believe there are many things in our daily life to be grateful and happy about, that is our perception.  I believe happiness is a choice and we can choose to be happy by focusing our attention on the many reasons to be grateful.  If we aren’t counting our blessings, we are often counting our problems.  When you find yourself doing so, remind yourself to think and talk about what you want, rather than what you don’t want.  You’ll find it’s difficult to remain unhappy when you are filled with love and gratitude.  You’ll also find people are attracted to your positive energy and you will attract even more reasons to be loving and grateful.  It’s so fun to watch people react warmly to eye contact, a smile and a friendly word and it never fails to lift my spirits.  Mundane errands like grocery shopping, dropping off the dry cleaning and picking up your morning coffee or tea become enjoyable experiences when you positively interact with people.

Count BlessingsA few years ago I started writing down every day ten things for which I am grateful.  Every day.  Ten things might seem like a lot, but they can be as simple as being grateful for rain to water the flowers, waking up on time or arriving just in time for an appointment/train/plane or bigger things like being grateful my teenager arrived home safely or for my good health, great relationships, a business opportunity or new friends.  It’s important to invoke feelings into this – include why you are grateful and feel love and gratitude when you are expressing these thoughts.  It is one of the best habits I have ever cultivated and never fails to lift my heart and give me joy.

 

piglet_gratitudeTen inspiring thoughts about gratitude:

  1. Gratitude brings your whole mind into closer harmony with the creative energies of the Universe – Wallace Wattles
  2. More miracles occur from gratitude and forgiveness than anything else – Philip H. Friedman
  3. Whenever we are appreciative, we are filled with a sense of well-being and swept up by the feeling of joy – M.J. Ryan
  4. Gratitude and love are always multiplied when you give freely.  It is an infinite source of contentment and prosperous energy – Jim Fargiano
  5. Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others – Cicero
  6. Counting blessings fills the cells of the body with health and thoughts of the mind with love – Leiza Alpass
  7. Shift from score keeping to appreciation and your relationships will flourish – Mark Anthony Lord
  8. Gratitude is the ultimate drug!  It feels wonderful, is free, legal and has no negative side effects – Damaris Pierce
  9. If you aren’t happy for what you already have, then what makes you think you will be happy with more – Maddy Malhotra
  10. We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures – Thornton Wilder

I am deeply grateful for the ability to share these thoughts with you! 🙂