"Gratitude is the emotional sweet spot from which we can create our best lives."
– Martha Beck
The word gratitude gets thrown around SO much this time of year.
But what is gratitude really?
Is it simply "the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness" ... or is gratitude something more?
Maybe gratitude is also something deeper, something that can't be so easily defined. Maybe it's the amazing feeling we get when we express deep gratitude and thanks to those we care about. And maybe it's what happens to our lives when we live in a state of perpetual gratitude.
Think about it: What's the difference between practicing gratitude and simply expressing thanks? And is there a valid, scientific reason to express gratitude more often than once a year?
In her blog, renowned life coach Martha Beck writes about a study that showed an increase in happiness among people who express genuine gratitude. Just by expressing thanks, they became happier. Hmmm. What if, instead of just once a year, we cultivated a regular gratitude practice? Could this have a meaningful impact on our lives and relationships?
Write a thank-you note or letter (and give it to the person you are thanking). Writing down your feelings of thanks will almost certainly improve your relationship with that person. Plus, it gives you a moment to reflect on the importance of that person. Also, why not write one to yourself? Self-love is important, too.
Keep a gratitude journal. Remind yourself of what you're thankful for in the moment and look back to remember all the wonderful people and things in your life.
Prayer can be a form of gratitude. Author and medical intuitive Caroline Myss likes this prayer: "I am grateful for all I have and for all I do not have. If I am grateful for having been spared of suffering, give me the grace to help those who are suffering. Amen."
A meditation practice. Think good thoughts. Incorporate feelings of gratitude into your meditation practice by creating a mantra of what you're grateful for. Meditation superstar Sharon Salzberg says, "I encourage myself to remember that being grateful doesn't mean I have to keep a gratitude jar that counts my blessings. It just means I can reset my thoughts, just like in meditation, and choose instead to gently settle my attention on something positive."