The Gift of Gratitude (P1)
Gratitude, simply put, is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. It is a warm feeling of thankfulness towards the world or specific individuals. There are many benefits to having a gratitude attitude, which provides gifts both to the giver and receiver. It can be likened to ice-cold water being drunk on a hot summer's day. Gratitude is refreshing, invigorating, and adds vitality to your mind, body, and relationships.
What are some schools of thought on gratitude?
The Harvard Medical School states that gratitude is [quote] "a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power".
A researcher (Forster et al., 2017) said gratitude is [quote] "an emotion that is typically evoked when one receives costly, unexpected, and intentionally rendered benefits, and is thought to play a key role in regulating the initiation and maintenance of social relationships".
A theologian once said (Lacewing, 2016) concerning Gratitude [quote], "if we acquire a good through exchange, effort or achievement, or by right, then we don't typically feel gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion we feel in response to receiving something good which is undeserved".
In one of his research papers and his co-author Robin Stern (2013), Robert Emmons says that: [quote] Gratitude has a dual meaning: a worldly one and a transcendent one. In its worldly sense, gratitude is a feeling that occurs in interpersonal exchanges when one person acknowledges receiving a valuable benefit from another. Gratitude is a cognitive-affective state that is typically associated with the perception that one has received a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person".
Why is gratitude important? [Social context]
Gratitude includes appreciation (recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something) not only of what someone does but who they are as a person. It is about fully understanding a situation, the act and its motive and expressing gratitude for it.
Gratitude is about paying attention to our relationships and all the gifts they bring us. By acknowledging and showing appreciation for the goodwill, the time they invested, and the acts of kindness, you have been blessed by, you demonstrate gratitude and show others that their actions are valued.
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
Gratitude is a prosocial behaviour that strengthens our connections with other people. Our words are often what make those connections visible. Such as thank you, I love you; you're so kind, I appreciate you, where would I be without you' etc. Words are an invisible creative force that forms the building blocks of solid and stable relationships.
“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some” – Charles Dickens
Combating Negative Thoughts
Gratitude is one of the most scientifically backed practices in positive psychology. According to the Gratitude Project, gratitude helps combat the brain's tendency to focus on the negative and get used to good things. This is no small thing because we are creatures of habit. Having a mechanism that can train us to think positively, where many people would generally focus on the negative.
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” – Anthony Robbins
A Powerful Social Glue
Gratitude is one of the most accessible forms of social glue to create and maintain alliances within the workplace. It's a simple, honest and genuine way of showing that you acknowledge and appreciate what someone did. If you research and look deep into the structure of any productive and high functioning organisation, you will find that gratitude has an essential part in the dynamics created. Leaders who demonstrate gratitude towards their employees tend to have more committed staff.
The social glue of gratitude is not limited to professional relationships. Studies have shown that thankfulness (valuing others) can help intimate relationships thrive by promoting a cycle of generosity that aids commitment to their relationship. When your partner sees that you love and appreciate what they have done for you, it reinforces them to want to do it repeatedly. Gratitude can be seen as the gift that keeps on giving!
“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton
Gratitude is an excellent asset to those who understand the importance of maintaining long-lasting and fruitful relationships, be it personal or professional. It strengthens relationships as it helps us see how we've been supported and affirmed by others. It shows others that we care and value them, and this is the pre-cursor to influencing their desire to act in your favour again when the next opportunity presents itself. It is easy to miss the good that others do for us because we get used to it. Don't make that mistake for anyone in your life that you value. Whenever you have the opportunity to express a genuine expression of gratitude, never let it pass you by without saying it. You never know what type of gift you are giving to that individual just by acknowledging how they have blessed you!
I hope you found this blog helpful. Leave a comment below and let me know one thing you will take away.
Ezra AKA Voice of Reason