Monday, August 30, 2010

Practicing Gratitude

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

From the time we start talking we are encourage to say thank you when we receive something.  It is part of our culture to show gratitude for gifts received or when we are shown a favor.  Rightfully so, as we will see, being grateful has to be nourished and practiced.  As adults, we have to remind ourselves often, to be grateful and see the benefit of it.

Meaning of Gratitude:
Gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. All derivatives from this Latin root “have to do with kindness, generousness, gifts, the beauty of giving and receiving, or getting something for nothing.”  As a psychological state, gratitude is a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.

Benefits of Practicing Gratitude:
Emotional Level
1. Gratitude is an emotion.
2. Gratitude is the opposite of envy.
3. Gratitude eliminates doubt and fear.
4. Gratitude produces powerful feelings of self-acceptance and inspires joy.  
5. Gratitude allows you to receive compliments without being bashful; it takes the focus away from yourself.
6. Gratitude opens your heart to forgiveness  and giving.
7. Gratitude alleviates distress and depression.
8. Gratitude transforms pessimism into optimism by having positive expectations.
9. Gratitude helps you to stay centered and trust in yourself, being more intuitive.
10. Gratitude has moral effects.

Mental Level
1. Gratitude brings you more of what you appreciate. The universal law of attraction says that you will attract into your life the things you think about and focus on.
2. Gratitude gives you more conscious awareness and brings you into the present moment.
3. Gratitude counteracts complaining and criticizing.
4. Gratitude counteracts worry.
5. Gratitude puts you in the mood for positive expectation.
6. Gratitude gives you insights into an authentic life and gives you a new identity.
7. Gratitude transcends your ego and self-centeredness.
8. Gratitude connects you to the “flow,” and synchronizes your life.
9. Gratitude raises your perceptions of the past and the future.
10. Gratitude allows to surrender.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

Melodie Beattie ~ Writer

Physical Level
1. Gratitude creates positive vibration which will attract more positive things.
2. Gratitude makes the object of your desire real. Keep on focusing on it and it will come to existence.
3. Gratitude helps you cope with difficulties.
4. Gratitude promotes savoring positive life experience.
5. Gratitude keeps us from taking good things for granted.
6. Gratitude helps strengthen relationships and focus on others.
7. Gratitude protects your health.
8. Gratitude is a learned skill.
9. Gratitude as a daily ritual - science has proven it to work.
10. Gratitude helps overcome addictions.

Spiritual Level
1. Gratitude invites the grace of God.
2. Gratitude encourages kindness and other moral behavior.
3. Gratitude allows you to live in grace by accepting life as is and paying attention to the small things and details.
4. Gratitude increases a sense of confidence and self-worth, by encouraging you to consider what you value about your life.
5. Gratitude allows you to say “thank you” and meaning it.
6. Gratitude fulfills your spiritual needs and brings you into contact with your God.
7. Gratitude blesses your life in more ways you can imagine.
8. Gratitude encourages you to count your blessings.
9. Gratitude helps you overcome negative core beliefs.
10. Gratitude adds purpose and meaning to life

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart
Psychologist Robert Emmons, University of California Davis, recently told us about the many benefits of practicing gratitude.
"First, the practice of gratitude can increase happiness levels around 25%.  
Second, this is not hard to achieve, a few hours spent writing gratitude journal over 3 weeks can create an effect that lasts 6 months if not more.  They also raise their energy levels and report fewer physical symptoms than those who didn't.
Third, that cultivating gratitude brings other health effects, such as longer and better sleep."

How to Practice Gratitude?
 As Psychologist Robert Emmons suggests, you can write a gratitude journal.   Set up a time each day and just write down whatever you are grateful for.

Another daily session can be to feel gratitude as a deep emotion.  It is not just enough to think grateful thoughts or to say thank you intellectually.  Really get to the core emotion, feeling mushy inside to the point you want to cry.  Suddenly, you will feel emotions flowing out of you, and it will be easy for you to pray for others and bless them.
Practicing gratitude comes in handy, when you feel anxiety or fear.  Witness that feeling, let is pass through you and observe it until it will disappear.  There is nothing wrong with you feeling anger or any other negative emotion.  Give yourself permission to feel the tension.  The key is not to dwell on it or even better not to react to it.
Cristine Kane suggests practicing gratitude in this way:
1. Sit quietly, close your eyes and breathe.
2. Bring into your mind something for which you are profoundly grateful. (If I’m in a bad place and can’t think of anything, my cats or dog always do the trick.)
3. That feeling, that smile that arises in you. That’s the feeling of gratitude. Let it build up.
4. Observe that feeling as an entity unto itself. Or, take you out of the picture. Put on the invisibility cloak. And let the feeling of gratitude become all that’s left of you.
5. Try to hold that energy and keep practicing it.

Another authority on practicing gratitude is Dr. Martin Seligman.  He is the director of the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Center. On his website you can take a gratitude questionnaire.
The other method of practicing gratitude is to express it.  Show your appreciation to others by giving compliments or just express your gratitude to them.  Express your feelings and show your love to your friends and family.  Whatever you give out will always return.  It is the spiritual law.

Create a physical place in your home where you practice gratitude.  Prepare an altar or table where you can place your gratitude list and/or journal.  You can even place physical objects or pictures there to remind yourself of what you appreciate.
You can see that there is a reason for “Thanksgiving” every day of the year.

1 comment:

Yusun said...

great blog... with very important content. being grateful is probably one of the best things we can do in our lives, and yet it's so often forgotten. thanks for the reminder. :)