“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement you should include all things in your gratitude.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
What is the meaning of gratitude, and how does it affect your health and well-being you might ask? The word “gratitude” has a different meaning in psychology research and means more than the dictionary’s definition. Webster defines gratitude as “the state of being grateful, warm and friendly feeling toward a benefactor, kindness awakened by a favor received; thankfulness, and the debt immense of endless gratitude.”
Most people associate gratitude with saying “thank you” to someone who has helped them or given them a gift. It is a positive emotion and it serves a purpose of feeling grateful. Studies by psychologists claim that gratitude is more than feeling thankful for something, and more of a deeper appreciation for someone or something, which produces longer lasting positivity.
The Benedictine monk, Br. David Steindl-Rast suggested that gratitude is the appreciation when you recognize that something is valuable to you which does not have any monetary value and also that gratitude is gratis freely given to you. Scientific expert Emmons claims gratitude has two key components, first it’s an affirmation of goodness. Affirming there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits received, and the second part recognizes that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves.
I watched Br. David on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and his profound words and thoughts in living a life of gratitude and grateful living made me notice all that is already present and abundant in my life. From the smallest thing as walking my dogs in the park and watching the leaves change into the beautiful fall colors and the beauty that surrounds me, I felt grateful for all the blessings and in so doing I take nothing for granted. Family and friends and loving relationships fill my life with abundant riches and love.
Life is a gift and during these challenging times, we must learn to be compassionate and care for each other.
When you practice a life of gratitude the benefits are immense:
Feeling good about yourself | More relaxed | Happier memories| Feeling happy | Kinder
More friends | Deeper relationships | Goal achievement | More spiritual | Improved decision making
Increased self-esteem | Improved sleep | Less sick | Longevity | Less envious
One of the tools necessary to help you practice a life of grateful living, each day for 5-minutes or more start a gratitude journal. This exercise can increase your long-term well-being as studies have shown. Overall, gratitude makes you a nicer, more trusting, appreciative person and deepens relationships and marriages. It also helps to keep the doctors away. As you gather together with family and friends this Thanksgiving begin a practice of grateful living.
Happy Thanksgiving to all! Namaste.
Resource. Br. David Steindl-Rast book Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer- An Approach to Life in Fullness
A Good Day: A Gift of Gratitude