Gratitude, or being thankful, seems to have become a wellbeing buzzword. Searching the terms will find thousands of articles like this one, championing the real power that gratitude can have in your day-to-day wellbeing.
You’d be forgiven for being skeptical.
But here’s the thing. As a society, we used to practice gratitude in a big way. And as an increasingly secular society we still can, and perhaps should.
Throughout much of our history, we’ve been religious beings, with a capital R. Motivations have evolved over time, but essentially this was in response to a threatening world and ignorance of natural processes. Scared of the storm? Take solace in the all-powerful entity to protect you. And when you have survived, thank him (it’s usually him, isn’t it?) Even at its most banal, the brief ‘Thank you Lord for the food we are about it eat’ is an expression of gratitude and thanks.
But it’s thanks to something exterior. Gratitude expressed to another. An acknowledgement that the locus of control is outside of us, in the hands of the other.
There’s another way.
We can simply be thankful. Literally, full of thanks. We can be grateful. Full of gratitude. The Latin roots of the word can be expressed as having appreciation and expressing thankfulness. And whilst we tend to associate that with the other, having done something for us, we can just sit with the feeling of gratitude in quietude and simply be. You can be grateful for a sunny day, a meal, being free from pain – the list is endless. It is a way of recognising the good, and celebrating it.
You can try a simple and free gratitude mediation here.
If you would like to know more about the fascinating scientific research behind gratitude, you can begin here.
One increasingly popular way of focusing on gratitude daily, and expressing it, is to keep a gratitude journal. Find 3 things a day for which you are grateful. There are numerous examples online to guide you in this process. Writing them done strengthens their influence and solidifies the positive effects of expressing gratitude. (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).
Here are some interesting links to explore this further:
Thanks for reading.