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  • Writer's pictureJohn Freedom

Why Gratitude is Good

Gratitude is an Attitude. Often, without even realizing it, we can get pulled into moods --- worries, irritations, disappointments or resentments. Things are never quite the way they “should” be! But when we put on our Gratitude Glasses we dispel the clouds of negativity, and our whole world shines more brightly, from the inside out.

There are two components to Gratitude. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to look for and find the goodness in our lives.

The second part of gratitude involves recognizing where that goodness comes from. We recognize the source/s of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or a Higher Power — have given us gifts, large and small, which helps us recognize the Goodness in our lives.

“Gratitude is a relationship-strengthening emotion,” writes researcher Robert Emmons, “because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.” Because gratitude encourages us not only to appreciate gifts but to repay them, or pay them forward, the sociologist Georg Simmel called it “the moral memory of mankind.” This is how gratitude may have evolved: by strengthening bonds between members of the same species who mutually helped each other out.

I studied judo with a Japanese master named Sensei Kawahatsu. He practices the Way of Arigato: the practice of Gratitude. He chants “Arigato Gozamaisu” ---- “Thank you very much” ---- 10,000 times/day! He teaches that it’s important to be grateful for our problems and challenges, as well as our blessings ---- because they teach us, they help us develop patience and compassion, and help build our emotional and spiritual muscles.

Here is a brief but beautiful poem about the interplay between Giving and Receiving. It was written by Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of NVC (Non-Violent Communication).

Giving and Receiving

I never feel more given to Then when you take from me, When you understand the joy I feel In Giving and Caring for you. And you know my giving isn't done To put you in my debt, But because I want to live the love I feel for you. To receive with grace May be the greatest giving. There is no way I can separate the two. When you give to me I give you my receiving And when you receive from me I feel so given to…..

Numerous research studies are now showing that practicing Gratitude:

  • Makes us happier

  • Increases psychological well-being

  • Enhances positive emotions

  • Increases self-esteem

  • Increases social support

  • Improves friendships and family and romantic relationships

  • Makes us more giving and more optimistic

  • Enhances Spirituality

  • Improves decision making

  • Reduces stress and improves work-related mental health

  • Reduces depression and blood pressure

  • Improves sleep

  • Improves overall physical health.

  • Helps us find meaning in our work and our lives.

Gratitude is an attitude. It’s an attitude we can choose to adopt and experience. We can change our minds any time we choose. When we shift our attitude from “Why me….?”” to “Gracias para mi vida….” we change our minds, our lives and our worlds; and the people around us change as well.

“Why Gratitude is Good”:

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