What is Gratitude?
"I feel a very unusual sensation – if it is not indigestion, I think it must be gratitude."
–Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister and novelist
Gratitude is a bodily and spiritual response to receiving a perceived benefit.
- If you’ve ever read something about the Middle Ages and thought, "We sure have come a long way in this world"...
- If you were ever glad that something you did yesterday prepared you for something today...
- If you’ve been glad your best friend was there for you…
- If you’ve appreciated a beautiful sunset or twinkling city lights…
- If you’ve ever laughed, "My life is awesome!" for a single moment...
It was an awakening of gratitude.
Gratitude is being thankful. It is being willing to show appreciation for kindness, and a willingness to return that kindness. That is the condition of gratitude. When we turn that willingness into action, it becomes the behavior of gratitude -- the expression of thanks.
Gratitude is Intense: The Wildfire
The emotion of gratitude doesn’t often seep in -- it engulfs like a wildfire. There is an instant bodily response that spreads quickly to permeate the spirit and very often surrounds everyone in the vicinity.
Gratitude destroys the negative and lays the framework for the positive. It chooses only the heartiest of spirits, like a wildfire devouring the dead and dying parts of trees -- destroying all the broken branches and the dead, dried leaves -- leaving a vast place to begin anew.
Gratitude is Tenacious: The Wildflower
Like wildflowers growing from the ashes left by the wildfire, gratitude is persistent. It brightens and colors life in as many colors as nature can muster. Gratitude is beautiful. It is powerfully uplifting. Its effects upon the soul are clear.
Our inner ideas, our most precious dreams, our very spirit is as tenacious as wildflowers, willing to grow anywhere! It is gratitude that guarantees that growth.
Gratitude happens naturally. It is in our core nature to be gracious. The warmth of gratitude starts at the center of our beings, and though it doesn’t always reach our lips in a spoken "thank you", it is up to us to live as if it never leaves our hearts.
Take action. Take down the walls. Let gratitude win.
The Effects of Gratitude
"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others."
In the short term, gratitude affects the body and state of mind. It may induce a feeling of awe, and there will be increases in energy, attentiveness, empathy, and optimism. In the long term, there are health benefits and an elevated emotional state. Gratitude has been associated with a higher quality of life due to:
- Increased sense of happiness
- Less depression
- Decreased stress and pain levels
- Better sleep
- Increased determination and enthusiasm
- Increased self-acceptance
It’s not hard to understand how an attitude of gratitude can help you succeed in work or in social relationships. By putting aside resentment, by not focusing on what you do not have, you can turn your energy inward toward contentment and outward toward kindness to others.
"If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "Thank you," that would suffice."
Gratitude in Numbers
If each of us gives an average of three compliments a day...that’s over 900 million compliments.There are 1440 minutes in a day. What would happen if you devoted one of them to say thank you?Who did you express gratitude to today? How did it make them feel? How did it make you feel?