An Introduction to Gratitude:
The renowned author, William Arthur Ward, wrote; “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn the most routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”
Essentially, “gratitude” is the quality of being thankful for what we have, as well as being able to appreciate and help our fellow human beings. Gratitude provides a primary key to living a happy and prosperous life. When you show appreciation for all you have, you will be content with your life and positive about all it has to offer.
If gratitude is missing from your life and you fear this may be creating a vacuum, it is time for you to consider how you can nurture it to achieve happiness and fulfillment.
During difficult times, we are likely to feel that we have nothing to be thankful for. It is then time to teach ourselves how we can cultivate essential appreciation. With determination and effort, you can quickly develop a sense of gratefulness. You can become content with yourself and your life.
Practicing gratitude can also help us achieve greatness!
Discover what gratitude is and all the benefits it can bring you. If you’re prepared to improve your overall well-being and be happier, then you can learn to cultivate gratitude.
Like any skill, you can teach yourself to develop the habits of appreciation. With practice, it can become a life choice.
Bring this concept into your life, and your relationships will improve too.
The Definition of Gratitude:
Almost every day, we say, “thanks.” We absentmindedly say it to the grocery store checkout clerk and the barista at the coffee shop. But are these heartfelt expressions of thanksgiving? Or merely a response we’ve been conditioned to express?
What exactly is gratitude?
Is it different from merely saying, “thanks?” Is the “thanks” a component of gratitude?
You will discover, as you continue reading through this post, a simple “thanks” can have a powerful impact on both the person expressing their appreciation and the person on the receiving end. This is expressly true when the genuine emotion of considered thankfulness “backs-up” that expression.
The great Roman thinker, Cicero, described gratitude as the greatest virtue and the parent of all the others. It is the key that unlocks all the doors. It is the quality that keeps us youthful. This philosophy, proposed more than two thousand years ago, is compelling. It defines gratitude as a stand-alone virtue and a quality of being. Gratitude is both! And it is so much more. It is what we feel deep in our hearts, toward others, when people are grateful to us, or when we see a person expressing their own gratitude.
As a sentiment or as part of an interaction between people, there is a simplicity to feeling grateful. And yet, when we try to comprehend this simplicity, we find a more complex meaning. Gratitude is an emotion, an experience, and a conscious choice for our awareness.
Relationships are strengthened and fostered with gratitude. At its core, it brings an experience of universal belonging. We can enjoy a genuine sense of overall well-being when we practice the intentional cultivation of gratitude.
Gratitude as a State of Being:
Shut your eyes, relax, and take a few minutes to remember a time when you felt you were appreciated. Try to recall this event as if it were happening at this very moment in time.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1.) What words did you hear?
2.) How did your body feel at that moment?
3.) What happened initially to trigger the experience?
4.) What were your thoughts at that moment?
5.) What did you most enjoy about being appreciated?
6.) What was it about this particular moment which brought you to remember it today?
Write your answers to these questions in a notebook so that you can refer back to them later.
Actually, there isn’t a single definition of gratitude. It has been described and defined within the context of emotions, attitudes, habits, traits, morals, and even “coping techniques.” Yet it is, without question, a powerful and incredibly complex concept. It can contribute to our satisfaction in relationships and our aspirations.
Can this be Considered as an Emotion:
In this context, we have to be sure to distinguish “emotion” from “mood.” “Emotion” is about someone or something. It is about a personally significant experience or situation. A “mood,” on the other hand, has no connection to any object and is not dependent on any single thing. By considering gratitude in this way, we can understand it as a response to a specific action within the framework of a “relationship.” An offering has been made, or something has been given by someone and received by another. This exchange helps to nourish the emotion of gratitude.
Gratitude is an empathic feeling, which means that to experience the emotion in an exchange, one needs to place themselves in the position of the giver. Gratefulness, in response to the gift, requires the recipient of the offering to feel the giver’s positive intent. This combination of empathy and recognition provides the infrastructure for the emotional element of gratitude in the interaction.
You can express gratitude for numerous different reasons. One can be grateful for receiving personal benefits, such as advice from a mentor. We can be thankful for physical, material items, such as a gift, your home, or your car. You can also promote gratitude through simple, interpersonal fulfillment, such as getting a hug from a friend. Or, we can experience gratitude for a monetary gain, like getting a pay-rise from our employer.
Gratitude is NOT about “Settling” for your lot!
Self-improvement and gratitude are not mutually exclusive.
Recently, some critics have alleged that gratitude cultivates “acceptance” of the status quo and self-satisfaction. Skeptics have charged that it stifles self-development and promotes self-indulgent complacency which, in turn, can impede progress. (The Problem with Gratitude.)
On the contrary; gratitude is a catalyst for self-improvement. Recent studies have shown that gratitude energizes and propels us to pursue our goals.
While research has demonstrated that gratitude ignites self-improvement, it’s also been shown to inspire us to become kinder, more humane people. Studies have shown that people inclined towards an attitude of gratitude have a tendency toward helping others, including complete strangers. This inspires us to “payback” our benefactors but also inclines us to “pay it forward” by helping all.
It’s fine to desire and want more in your life as long as you appreciate what you already have. Don’t reflect on what you don’t have. Willie Nelson, the American singer, songwriter, and musician, once said; “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
My Own Experiences:
Personally, in embracing this concept as a credo to live by, I’ve learned that it is not the same as giving thanks. Calamity – of one sort or another, both major or minor – abounds in human life. When your boiler packs in during the bleak midwinter months you’ll feel hugely grateful to your plumber when he has restored the heat and hot water. If, after an anxious wait, you learned that the tests revealed the tumor to be benign and the prognosis favorable, you would feel enormously thankful to the clinician who confirmed it!
Gratitude has a deeper understanding and wisdom of its own and knows that each of our life’s little stories can end in a myriad of different ways.