Updated: Dec 9, 2019
The big word "Gratitude"...... when you think of gratitude so many things come to mind... appreciation, thankfulness, joy, love, compassion, glee, blessed.......
As children we are told to be grateful for our blessings. We are told to be grateful for people in our lives, as they won't always be around. We are told to be grateful for the food on our plate, as there are thousands starving across the globe. We are "told" we should be grateful, but were we taught what that means, what that looks like, what that feels like? How to accept it? How to show it to others?
It is one of those lessons thrown into life between school, work, sporting events, music lessons and bedtime. Some people "caught" the lesson; while others are still learning it.
What is "Gratitude"?
Websters describes it as:
Gratitude. GRAT'ITUDE, noun [Latin gratitudo, from gratus, pleasing. See Grace.] An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness.
www.gratefulness.org refers to Benedictine monk, Br. David Steindl-Rast's wisdom on the subject:
"Brother David suggests that two qualities belong in our basic definition of gratitude. The first is appreciation: You recognize that something is valuable to you, which has nothing to do with its monetary worth. The second quality Br. David mentions is that gratitude is gratis: freely given to you."
Robert Emmons, is perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, also argues that gratitude has two key components: “First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves…We acknowledge that other people…gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
So gratitude is a heartfelt emotion you feel inside with the awareness that it is a sense of goodness coming externally. When you show gratitude towards others it is given freely creating a sense of goodwill, love, compassion, appreciation and thankfulness. When you receive gratitude from others it helps you to celebrate the present successes and feel value for your offerings of support. It makes you feel pretty good inside.
These are all higher vibrating emotions and feelings; the kind that help your body to heal itself.
This high level emotional range helps you to keep your positive energy levels up. In my last blog, "Crystals For Releasing Anxiety, Fear and Worry" I discussed how the vibrations of the body, both help and hinder the body's own natural ability to heal itself. Negatives vibrations hinder; higher more positive vibrations help to heal.
When you look at the energy scale below, when you feel the more positive emotions and feelings, your body's energy vibration rises. Conversely, when you look at the lower emotions of anger, fear, shame you can clearly note that those negative emotions lower your body's energy vibrations.
It makes sense; when you are happy you have an increase in your energy levels and flow, giving you additional drive and motivation. When you are angry or sad, your energy levels drop considerably making you feel drained and exhausted.
So gratitude helps to raise our body's natural internal energy vibration, in turn helping it to help heal itself at some level. It helps you to focus on the positives aspects of life, instead of the negative ones. It helps you to alleviate envy, resentment and depression because you are seeking out the positives of every situation in which to be grateful.
Scientific Benefits of Demonstrating Gratitude
In the November 2014 edition of Forbes magazine, Amy Morin, Psychotherapist and Author, writes a compelling article on the scientific benefits of showing gratitude. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#61834a09183c)
Amy highlights the top "7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude":
1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships.
Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or you send a quick thank-you note to that co-worker who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
2. Gratitude improves physical health.
Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and they report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups with their doctors, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
3. Gratitude improves psychological health.
Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, ranging from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression.
Grateful people are more likely to behave in a pro-social manner, even when others behave less kind, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
5. Grateful people sleep better.
Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
6. Gratitude improves self-esteem.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athlete’s self-esteem, which is an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs – which is a major factor in reduced self-esteem- grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
7. Gratitude increases mental strength.
For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War Veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all you have to be thankful for – even during the worst times of your life – fosters resilience.
Release The Fear and Move Towards Gratitude
We are all afraid of things in life, and sometimes that fear impedes are ability to see the beauty and gratitude in things and in people around us.
We may look at others houses or cars or fancy clothes and feel a certain "lack" and are afraid of what others might say about our own perceived "lack". Or maybe we fear we will never get out of a state of "lack".
We may be in the presence of people truly in love, and are afraid of having our own relationship put up in comparison. We know we have work to do, but are afraid others might find out.
We may see others succeeding down the path that we wanted to take in life; and are letting fear stand in the way of living our own dreams, down our own path.
If we could try to live our lives from a place of love, appreciation and gratitude; instead of from a place of fear, envy and resentment, think how differently our world would be:
Instead of choosing fear over what others might say about our own lack; what if we chose to accept and appreciate the gifts in our lives that warm our hearts - like our family, our friends, our animals, our lessons in life, our many gifts and blessings that make up our world. When you start to list all the blessings in your life, you will begin to see there is no "lack" in your life at all. Your blessings are different, but they are plentiful and full of love.
Instead of rising to anger; try calming with understanding. Try to put yourself in the other person's shoes - what are they thinking? what are they feeling? what led to this?
Instead of focusing on the 10% that is wrong in your world; try focusing on the 90% that is going pretty darn well! Do not look at other people's lives to measure your own success. Your own success comes from within. You can measure your own success by setting very clear and attainable goals; then work towards them. Show yourself gratitude for achieving those goals. Show gratitude to others along your path, for their assistance in achieving your goals.
It's Your Choice To Decide To Change. Doing things the same way over and over, and expecting a different outcome is a definition of insanity. In order for our world around us to change, we must change - starting with ourselves. When those negative emotions are creeping up inside of you (envy, resentment, fear, anger, upset, etc.), stop and make a conscious choice to stop that line of negative thinking. Look around and find one thing that is good in the person or the situation - just 1 thing.
Seek to understand, before striking out. As the great business guru Steve Covey once said "Seek to understand; BEFORE seeking to be understood". That seems to be the key to gratitude. Try understanding the world around you, the people and events around you. Seek to understand first.
Then from a place of "understanding" you can easily and naturally go to a state of "acceptance". Sometimes things are exactly, the way they are supposed to be, even if you don't like it that way. "It is what it is, exactly how it is to be" is a great mantra for acceptance. I use this one often to get me through some tough issues.
Then once at "acceptance" start looking for the silver lining. Look for all the positive lessons. Look for all the positive outcomes. I bet they outweigh any negatives you started out with. Now out of all those positives; what are you most grateful for? List at least two things that you are grateful for in this situation. You are now at Gratitude!!!
"Gratitude" then is a choice, Your Choice. Consciously stop and choose to look for the good in others. Choose to see the good outcomes in bad events. Choose to raise your vibration. Choose to stay positive. Choose to attract more positive energies into your world. Choose to stay joyful and happy. Choose to have less stress and upset. Chose to live a life of joy, peace and love; and not one of negativity and drama. Life is just too darn short for that!!
So What Are You Grateful For?
I am grateful for:
My husband who continues to support me through the first year in business; and who loves me even on my worst days.
My fur babies who love me unconditionally and are so accepting of my quirky ways.
My friends who are my shoulder to lean on, my playmates, my confidants and my collaborators!!