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Gratitude, a path to celebrating life - P1/3

Gratitude is generally seen as an emotion, an attitude, a moral virtue, a personality trait, or a coping mechanism, it is derived from the Latin root gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. In a Gallup survey, over 90% of respondents indicated that expressing gratitude helped them to feel “happy”. I believe in the mystical power of gratitude, it is an accelerant, a tool, and a mindset, that elicits celebration of life.

Research states that ‘although a variety of life experiences can elicit feelings of gratitude, gratitude stems from the perception of a positive personal outcome, not necessarily deserved or earned, that is due to the actions of another person’. You would agree with me that an expression of gratitude brings enthusiasm and excitement in both the young and old alike. In the right context, it can even give  meaning and clarity to once purpose in life. It boosts one's self image, self esteem and self worth. In recent years, many research and study have proven the positive effects of  gratitude on the wellness of body and mind. The words, context, and behaviour of gratitude that are displayed by people are universally appreciated, however only an outside gesture without inside feeling is considered superficial. Authentic gratitude  is the synergy of the internal belief and external behaviour, it is not a one way experience, rather a celebration of oneness.

We can agree that gratitude has two operating parts, the visible expressions, gestures and behaviours, and the second the internal belief  or schema or world view of gratitude. Many stress, strain, frustration, aggression and unhappiness in life can be traced back to some common irrational internal beliefs like  

  1. My hard work MUST give me desired results

  2. I DESERVE to have (so why be grateful)

  3. I WILL be happy when I have

  4. It is ONLY my effort  (so why be grateful)

Furthermore, many broken relationships are an outburst to the inability of people to recognise, and appreciate the the little things done. This supposedly unintentional ignorance are actually intentional forgetfulness because we tend to take expressing gratitude for granted. We all have stories of a boss, or a colleague or a partner, or children, or parent, who never see the little things, but we often wish they would, because it would bring us happiness.  Dr. Glenn Williams says, “An effective route to happiness is not necessarily through experiencing major events. Rather it is the small, and often unexpected pleasures in life that can help us build more meaningful lives.”  And expressing gratitude for both the big and the little things in life will multiply our celebration of life and also for the people around us, and furthermore, it will strengthen relationships .

It is our belief, attitude and understanding  about gratitude that play a crucial role in the our gratitude index. Imagine a gratitude scale, on one extreme, we have individuals who orchestrate  and tightly hold on to their expectations about the way they believe a situation will and should turn out. And if these expectations are not met, their instinctive reaction is to focus on the opportunities lost.  At the other extreme, there are people who are carefree about the anticipated outcome, and they instinctively focus on the opportunities acquired, and work overtime to convert everything into positive experience. Inreality most of us don't fall on either extremes, rather we tend to lean to one side of the spectrum.  The answer to where we lean lies in the self realization of how often we let go or hold onto our expectations, or how often do we focus on acceptance of a situation or how often we take time to appreciate what we have, or how often in the past have we robbed ourself of the opportunity to recognize and enjoy the present.  You can take a quick self assessment to get started in your understanding of your internal framework towards gratitude. ( )

If becoming a person of gratitude is one of your personal growth plan, understanding the impact of internal belief on gratitude and how others experience your gratitude is one out of the three elements for growing in gratitude. The second element of growing in gratitude is developing gratitude habits and the third element is leading others to gratitude, both of which will be explained in the following articles.

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