The Gift of Gratitude (P3)
In part 2 of this blog series, I explored the benefits of gratitude in the workplace, ways that we can grow in gratitude the trap to be aware of concerning gratitude and feeling grateful vs being grateful. This blog will focus on five of the lasting legacies of gratitude available to all those who embark on this simple practice.
Gratitude is about being kind in turn. It is the mechanism used to show and reveal your appreciation for the good that was experienced at the hands of another. Gratitude is the ability to view the world from a place of interconnectedness. It's a spotlight that we shine on the people that give us the good things in life.
Legacy 1: Warming the Heart
Gratitude can leave a powerful legacy in the heart and minds of others as they learn that their actions and words mean something to someone. It gives them insight into your heart and mind, which makes them feel good because they helped or supported someone else. This is where the saying derives from 'it is more blessed to give than to receive.
For this emotional transaction of gratitude to occur, one essential process must be highlighted. The individual providing the feedback needs to be specific when expressing gratitude, as this is what makes it authentic! This ensures that the person receiving thanks can recognise it and acknowledge it. As a result, this helps to reinforce positive behaviours in both the giver and receiver.
“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
Legacy 2: Building Trust
Building trust is foundational for any relationship to stand the test of time. Gratitude is one of the tools that help establish this as your acts of appreciation towards others (and vice versa) create an assured reliance on your character and your ability to appreciate the value of others.
One study showed that gratitude could have a spillover effect when regularly expressed. People become more trusting of each other and more likely to help each other out. There is a powerful bonding on a psychological and emotional level when gratitude is authentically expressed regularly.
The science behind this is that experiences that tighten meaningful connections such as gratitude engage biological systems for trust and affection alongside circuits for pleasure and reward. These include Oxytocin which plays a vital role in social bonding, and Dopamine, which among many others things, regulates pleasure.
“Thankfulness is the beginning of gratitude. Gratitude is the completion of thankfulness. Thankfulness may consist merely of words. Gratitude is shown in acts.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Legacy 3: Developing Empathy
Empathy is a vital ingredient that re-enforces the connectedness or relationships. Daniel Goleman identified three components of empathy: Cognitive, Emotional and Compassionate. The cognitive element is knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking. The emotional aspect is when you can feel along with the other person (empaths regularly experience this). The compassionate element is understanding their predicament and how they may feel and being ready to assist if help is needed.
Expressing gratitude helps you recognise the intensions and effort behind the individual's actions, which is good practice for the "putting yourself in someone else's shoes " mindset when expressing empathy. Gratitude is a precursor to empathy and enables you to practice this skill regularly.
Seeing with grateful eyes requires us to know the web of interconnection by which we alternate between being givers and receivers. We experience both sides of the coin! Gratitude is always a two-way street.
“Being thankful is not always experienced as a natural state of existence, we must work at it, akin to a type of strength training for the heart.” – Larissa Gomez
Legacy 4: The Power of Gifts
One of the ways that we can express gratitude is by giving a gift to someone. Giving gifts can be a creative and personal way of showing someone that they matter. This is especially true in romantic relationships where individuals' love language is receiving gifts. The gift itself doesn't have to be expensive either. It is more about the thought and the power of blessing someone with the gift that creates the impact.
Research shows that giving gifts has an essential effect on working relationships and reciprocity (the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit). Nonmonetary gifts are the most beneficial and build trust when it is sincere and without motive.
Giving creates gratitude for the receiver and can also be an excellent way to express gratitude, especially if the person in question is shy. Some people don't like verbal praise. In such cases, a gift can speak a thousand words and be received and appreciated by that individual.
“Opening your eyes to more of the world around you can deeply enhance your gratitude practice.” – Derrick Carpenter
Legacy 5: Micro-alliances (small but significant moments)
The joyful ways we come together over a mutually beneficial and transformational interaction, such as an authentic expression of gratitude, can be powerful because it builds connection. The connection is the glue that keeps relationships healthy.
I want to point out that gratitude is never a should but always a could. I mean that gratitude should be a free expression, not forced coercion. Whenever the latter takes place, it is futile and in vain!
However, when done authentically, gratitude can positively impact others and have the potential to strengthen emotional bonds. Gratitude also teaches us to celebrate goodness wherever it comes from.
Across two decades of research, gratitude in its various forms seems to have wide-ranging benefits for our mental health, relationships, and self-improvement.
“Be grateful for what you already have while you pursue your goals. If you aren’t grateful for what you already have, what makes you think you would be happy with more.” – Roy T. Bennett
So, there you have it, five lasting legacies that you can inherit just by the simple practice of authentic gratitude whenever the situation calls for it. We all can be grateful; it all comes down to the willingness to train and develop our gratitude muscles. Gratitude is a prosocial behaviour that strengthens our connections with other people. Our words are often what make those connections visible. Be visible today!
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