We are something other than what we imagine, something greater. We heed that mysterious calling—to connect ourselves with others. That’s the voice of gratitude. That’s why we say thank you.
Gratitude is not so much a moral obligation. It is a yearning to step beyond ourselves.
Gratitude links us to that raw precept expressed in President Lincoln’s sweeping, majestic prose in his first inaugural address: “…when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
We have the capacity to let gratitude rise from our hearts. Or not. We are, at once, hellions and saints.
It is, in essence, what establishes our nobility: our ability to convey gratitude.
But, in the real world, gratitude holds a small amount of irony: Gratitude is good for us.
Does it make you healthier?
Does it make you wealthier?
Does it make you wise?
Yes, definitely. Scientists say gratitude has a direct impact on your health. And you feel better at the same time.
“Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life,” said University of California, Davis, psychology professor Robert A. Emmons. “It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function, and facilitate more efficient sleep.”
Researchers say expressions of gratitude (the giving of thanks) improve your health by:
- Promoting better self-care.
- Improving sleep.
- Reducing the temptation to overeat.
- Easing depression.
- Providing happiness.
- Enhancing empathy.
- Developing greater self-esteem.
Yes, indeed. In fact, gratitude kind of rewires your brain or, at least, alters your outlook. It makes you “feel” wealthy.
Great wealth is, in reality, a matter of perspective. Nonetheless, scientists have traced a direct link from gratitude to wealth. In one study by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, researchers concluded that subjective wellbeing leads to more earnings.
By the numbers, how does gratitude instill wealth?
Authors Ellen Rogin and Lisa Kueng (Picture Your Prosperity: Smart Money Moves to Turn Your Vision into Reality) write that gratefulness makes you less materialistic.
“By focusing on gratitude, not only will you help yourself be less materialistic, you’ll probably naturally spend less money and be able to save more.”
Gratitude also makes you more likeable, which is great for boosting your career, they say. “Grateful people have been found to be more focused and productive—traits that certainly help in career advancement.” In the process, you become more productive.
Yes, but first we must define wisdom.
Psychologists say wisdom has to do with the process of decision-making and incorporates the more elusive operations of knowledge, experience, and understanding.
What does that mean?
According to psychologists, wisdom involves understanding, tolerating and putting into perspective life’s uncertainties and unexpected changes. Wisdom chooses to wear the rose-colored glasses.
Wisdom requires awareness and optimism about life’s challenges—and that every problem has a solution.
Gratitude fits perfectly into wisdom. In fact, the two are inseparable.
Yes, gratitude does produce wisdom. And wisdom compels us to define the difference between being thankful and being grateful.
Gratitude is shaped by action. Thankfulness is a state of mind. Thankfulness is the first step in the discipline of acquiring gratitude as a lifestyle. So, how do you become grateful?
How to be Grateful
Here’s how to get started:
- Get a daily journal.
- Plan to write in the journal every day early in the morning when you wake or before you go to bed.
- Before you write, think about three things you are thankful for. And be specific.
- Write whatever comes to mind in your journal. Doing it every day helps build it into a habit.
- Tell someone—your spouse, a partner, a friend, a coworker, even an acquaintance, if possible—how much you appreciate that person. Make this specific also. Don’t just say: “Thank you for being you.” Communicating gratitude strengthens relationships.
- As you’re brushing your teeth or washing your face in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and identify something you’ve done recently or something you like about yourself. You can even thank yourself.
- Look for the good in bad situations. Rephrase how you express opinions about others or about circumstances in your life. Putting a positive spin or finding the gold nugget makes life a little brighter. Repetition builds it into a habit. And habits shape your personality.
Thank You Very Much
Your positive attitude developed by expressions of gratitude help shape the world into a happier place.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.