Do you wake up in the morning and grumble, thinking up every reason you would rather stay in bed. Or do you wake up and say, “Wow, a brand-new day! Another day for adventure, life and opportunity”? We really do have a choice you know. We can be grateful for another day or selfishly grumpy. On a scale of one to 10--with 10 being highest--where do you fall on the “Gratitude” scale?
Sure, sure, we all have bad days. We all have difficulties, challenging circumstances and painful experiences. But these experiences should not stop us from having and expressing Gratitude and Thankfulness for what we have been given. Every day is a gift. So are our relationships, our health and so much more. In contemplating “Gratitude,” I had some really random thoughts, that were pretty provocative to me.
When you look into the sky, what you’re seeing is completely unique--something never seen exactly like that before or ever will be again. The clouds shift and change along with the sky color, the number and type of birds dancing in the breeze will never be exactly the same, jetliners and airplanes passing overhead are unique to just that moment in time. These sights are a gift to be grateful for, and not to be taken for granted.
When you look into the face of a loved one, what do you see? Do you see lines of age, a warm smile, a painful expression for some unique physical characteristic? Do you see memories, pleasant experiences, joyful appreciation and the unique personality that every person possesses? Do you embrace that face for the gift that it is to your life? Does Gratitude swell up in your heart for the blessing that person represents?
When you look into the face of a stranger, what do you see? Do you wonder about their life’s story? Do you see joyful or sorrowful eyes? Do you see them as like or different from yourself, and why? Do you appreciate them as another person journeying through life with the same needs, wants and desires as you? Are you Grateful for the opportunity to engage someone new as an opportunity to bring warmth, acceptance and kindness?
When you look into a mirror, what do you see? Do you see a joyful face or an aging shadow of what you used to be? Do you see a fresh bough of life, an encourager or a complainer? Do you say to yourself, “Isn’t it great to be alive”? Isn’t it a gift that we can see at all? I have come to the conclusion that “blindness” is not the lack of sight, it is the inability to perceive life with Gratitude!
Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, Gratitude is an affirmation of goodness, joyfulness, thankfulness and an intrinsic awareness of a power greater than ourselves. Gratitude is a lens to see the world through, to see the good of it; it is a power that frames and shapes our thinking and how our brain functions.
To no one’s surprise, there have been a plethora of research on Gratitude and the positive impact it has on the human character. Gratitude generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inward and extends outward, and produces tangible emotional, physical and mental wellbeing. Studies show that practicing Gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating over them, or letting them destroy you from within.
Additionally, the beneficial effects of Gratitude snowball over time. Brain scans of people assigned a task that stimulates expression of Gratitude show lasting changes in the prefrontal cortex, a heightened sensitivity to future experiences of Gratitude. The Gratitude emotion literally pays itself forward.
Gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in one's life. It is finding a blessing or a gift in something as simple as the sky, in family and friends, in strangers, at work, at play, in the mundane, and in the extraordinary! Having Gratitude is a conscientious effort on our part, something we desperately need to cultivate.
Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions. The more one “exercises” their Gratitude language and thinking, the more they become set free from the toxicity of negative thoughts, and actions.
Gratitude helps us even if we don’t share it. It is certainly much better to outwardly express our Gratitude. But research has demonstrated that just changing your thinking, internalizing gratefulness, and learning to reframe your perception of life’s experience in the positive will produce the same positive detoxification and healing process.
Gratitude’s benefits take time. Research clearly demonstrates that practicing Gratitude is a snowball effect. You start slowly and steadily progress towards a more rapid transformation. The bottom line, when you conscientiously engage in Gratitude activities, don’t be surprised if you don’t feel immediately better. Be patient and remember that the benefits of gratitude might take time to kick in.
Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain. The research is clear, gratitude substantially changes the brain as measured scientifically by brain scan evaluations. Research findings indicate that expressing Gratitude over time literally “trains the brain” to be more grateful, which in turn, produces improved mental, physical and emotional wellbeing!
When you wake up tomorrow, start practicing Gratitude by expressing, “Wow, a brand new day! Another day for adventure, life and opportunity!” Or try, “Isn’t it great to be alive!” Look around you with the lens of Gratitude and begin to see the world from the point of appreciation; let your transformation being!