The Definition of Gratitude
By Oxford’s definition, Being Grateful means a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness; having or showing the desire or reason to thank someone for giving pleasure or comfort. Being grateful means you know you are indebted to someone for some action undertaken by them that benefited you.
Gratitude takes unnumbered shapes and forms, from tickets to the hottest show in town, to a brand new Porsche, but often gratitude comes in gentler doses. A simple inclination of the head, a wordless hug, a handshake and poignant look into another’s eyes. However it comes, it’s one of the most important things we can ever do.
The Reality of Gratitude
Expressing gratitude rewards and builds bridges. It alleviates tensions and sets a higher standard, but it also opens the doors and windows to blessings. It sets aside our baser, more selfish tendencies and allows us to be, if only for a few moments, the people we all wish we could be. Appreciation makes princes out of paupers and, conversely, paupers out of princes. Gratitude levels scores and rights wrongs, and no matter how we express it, if our appreciation is genuine, it’s effect is usually significant.
According to a study done at the Mayo Clinic, expressing gratitude is associated with a host of mental and physical benefits. Studies show that feeling and expressing thankfulness improves sleep, mood and immunity. Gratitude also decreases depression, anxiety, difficulties with chronic pain, and risk of disease.
The Effect of Gratitude
Imagine, for a moment, you’re a laborer working at some menial job; cleaning bathrooms perhaps, collecting garbage, hauling debris from a worksite somewhere. Every day you come in on time and do your job without complaint. You leave only when your task is done completely and correctly, but no one ever says a word to you. If you didn’t do this job, the resulting mess would be atrocious, yet people pass by you while you work, stepping to the far side of the hall or moving to the other side of the road rather than approaching you. No one, not even your boss, says you are doing a good job.
Then one day, out of the blue, a complete stranger comes up to you and says “Thank You”. You’re told you’re truly appreciated for your willingness to do a job not many others would do. They even shake your hand, although you are grimy and they are pressed and polished. It only takes a moment, but their simple act changes everything. You hold your head higher and walk with a lighter step. When you go home, you tell those close to you what happened and share how good it made you feel.
The Result of Gratitude
When you go back to work, you take on extra responsibilities without being asked by working a few extra minutes each day tidying up or polishing something that has been neglected for months. You talk with people more willingly and share a smile more easily. You notice the things others do and take time to extend a token of appreciation to them. A small note of thanks to the maid for cleaning the windows so well, or a bottle of water for the man cutting the grass outside in the summer heat. As a result, you feel even better.
Not too long after this change occurs, your boss stops by unannounced. He tells you he’s noticed what a great job you’ve been doing; how hard you’re working and how well you treat others. He explains a new position has recently been created by management, one he feels you would be perfect for, and asks if you would be interested in a promotion and a raise. Then he stands back and watches you smile.
And all because someone thanked you.
The Practice of Gratitude
Yes, Gratitude can be a miracle worker, and if we remember to be thankful for our blessings, big or small, trite or unique, miraculous or mundane, our appreciation will open the floodgates of blessings beyond imagining.
A Thanksgiving Poem for Mindfulness and Meditation
A Thankful Heart is )pen to Blessings
because it is closed to worry, doubt, and wailing.
A Thankful Heart is Filled with Love
because it empties itself of loathing, greed, and envy.
A Thankful Heart is Overflowing with Peace
because it does not share itself with lies, distrust, and negativity.
A Thankful Heart Touches others with its Blessings and Love
because it is Ever in the Presence of Love and Blessing.
A Thankful Heart Speaks in Kindness, Patience and Empowerment
because it does not promote hate, intolerance or seek to incapacitate.
A Thankful Heart Chooses its path each day with Diligence and Joy
because it does not concentrate on what it cannot do.
A Thankful Heart Walks in Hope, Love, Peace and Joy
because it Knows nothing else.
A Thankful Heart Shares its Purpose
because it is incapable of withholding all that pours from its Abundant Profusion.
Embark upon each new day with a Thankful Heart, for therein Lives true Blessing.