Gratitude

It is not happy people who are grateful, it is grateful people who are happy.

Recently, I’ve been contemplating the word gratitude, it’s meaning, and how I feel when I express my gratitude or when I sit quietly and realize all that I have, but the biggest question for me is: Are we participating in expressing our gratitude often enough?

Each of us can express & recognize our gratitude in a variety of ways.  We might express it verbally, write a letter of thanks, or today’s version, send an email or text. But I was searching for other words because I know that when I show my gratitude or think about what I am thankful for, there are many other emotions that surround and warm me to the soul.

Words that come to my mind are: community, kindness, heartfelt, thankfulness, thoughtfulness, smiles, fortunate, warmth, and appreciation. Several times over the last month I have felt especially grateful for all that I have that has no monetary value, yet lifts my spirits for days on end and makes me proud to live in a small community where people know each other by name.

As I typed the word gratitude into the Google search engine, I found these basic definitions, “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” and “Gratitude is an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has.” Concise, brief statements, yet full of so much power.

We’ve all expressed gratitude and have felt grateful but do you know how many health benefits are generated? TONS! You can’t go wrong with expressing gratitude. Do you know that a positive mental attitude is good for your heart? Yes!!! Positive health fends off depression, stress, and anxiety. We can cope better with daily stressors and reduce negative emotions. Our immune systems are stronger, which aids us in getting a better night’s sleep and the best part is that we will have more energy! Yes, energy and that is without exercising!

You might think that practicing gratitude or thankfulness is difficult but here are several easy ways to practice:

  • Keep a gratitude journal & write in it each day at a time that works best for you
  • Pull out a paper and pen and write someone a heartfelt letter and mail it the old fashioned way, via the U.S. Postal Service!
  • At dinnertime, have each person go around and share one thing that they are grateful for.
  • Keep a gratitude board. You can create this easy to make board by typing up the words “Today I am thankful (or grateful) for…” and insert it into a picture frame. Keep dry erase markers close by so that you can write on it daily or weekly.
  • Be present: Focus on the present moment. Notice what’s all around you. Use all of your senses: What do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste?  Experiencing what is right in front of you is one of the surest ways to keep a grateful heart.
  • Create a gratitude jar: take any jar or container and each day, write on a piece of paper what you are grateful for. Then, after a few months, look back over the lists/items in the jar.

It truly takes a few short minutes each day to remember what you are grateful for. I encourage you to begin your awareness of gratitude today, to express it to others and feel all of the warmth, kindness, energy and love that this nine letter word generates.