Gratitude: The Experience of Thankfulness and Appreciation

Sometimes I get caught up in the feeling of what’s missing and what I don’t have. Invariably this brings me to a familiar dark place. I have learned that when this feeling arises it is my cue to get back to basics. I need to remember what is good and the gifts in my life.

Gratitude is the experience of thankfulness and appreciation. Every religion and philosophy embraces the idea of gratitude as one of the great virtues and character strengths. It has been shown repeatedly in the research that people who express their gratitude are generally happier and more fulfilled in their lives than those who do not. Also people who are grateful tend to be healthier physically and psychologically than their non-grateful counterparts.

Woman looking up in gratitude

Author Melody Beattie said that, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Being grateful is deeply rewarding for the giver and receiver of the appreciation. The words “thank you” set up a positive connection between family members, friends and strangers. Thank you is a simple and powerful thing to say.

For some of us the expression of gratitude comes easily. For others it requires some skill formation. One of the best ways to develop gratitude is by keeping a gratitude journal. Writing down several things that you are grateful for in a journal on a daily basis is a great start towards building this character strength. Recording in a gratitude journal, regardless of how small or seemingly insignificant these experience might be, fires up the brain to start appreciating. Perhaps it is a delicious cup of coffee that you feel grateful for or, a good conversation with a friend, a walk with your dog, a yummy apple… Making these observations facilitate feeling more optimistic and happy more often.

Other benefits of expressing gratitude either orally or in a journal include: heightened creativity, successful goal attainment, heightened energy, alertness and enthusiasm, a greater sense of connectedness, improved sleep, and a great likelihood to exercise. WOW! Who knew?

Gratitude affirmation: I am grateful for all that I have.

What do you feel grateful for today?

Wishing you love and inspiration,

Dr. Kamen Signature

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