Practice daily gratitude!
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others. Cicero
I believe like Cicero in the importance of virtues. In his written work, the great philosopher recognizes the familiar four cardinal virtues. In this instance Cicero’s order is–
However, Cicero gave a special place to gratitude which he deemed the queen of all virtues. For more 2000 years, now, there have been countless teachers reminding us of the power of gratitude. In modern psychology, several studies and books demonstrate the connection between gratitude and increased well-being for the people involved.
Using Cicero methods of questioning (5W and 1 H) frequently used by Journalists, I will explore the idea of gratitude.
What is gratitude?
It is a feeling of appreciation when one receives a gift, a favour, an act of kindness toward the person who gave him the help, present, or favours.
Who can practice gratitude?
While everyone can feel grateful, not all of us do. Studies have shown that the more grateful one is, the more feel happy. Positive feelings, thoughts and emotions generate happiness, and as such gratitude, a positive feeling is the source of happiness. While negative feelings, thoughts and emotions bring a state of despair.
When? Practice gratitude daily
Practice gratitude daily in morning and evening. For years, I started and often ended the day with Denzel Washington short YouTube video where he spoke about gratitude and expressed thanks. Nowadays, I listen to the same words but put in music.
Express Gratitude to God, a higher power for all the goodness in your life,
Journaling also all the things that you feel grateful for in your life is a great way to express gratitude.
Make also sure to express thanks to all the people who have helped you along the way. A sincere thanks to your family, children, parents, colleagues, friends, well-wishers, business partners, and all those who are there for you, Give thanks to God and those who are helping you, sending a gift for your birthdays, anniversaries, or giving you money when you are broke, sharing good advices along the way.
Why? The benefits of gratitude
Studies equate the practice of gratitude with better psychological health and well-being. It gives renewed enthusiasm and optimism as your mind is filled with feelings of appreciativeness and gratitude daily. Modern Psychology has published many studies attesting of a connection between happiness level and gratitude. It will improve your relationship with others as people appreciate your attitude of gratitude.
The secret a world-famous book also states that there is a link between gratitude and abundance. The more you have of gratitude, the more abundance there is in your life.
The more you give gratitude, the more you get. People are more inclined to help a grateful heart.
How to express gratitude?
- Say thank you to people who help you along the way.
- Write an appreciation note thanking people for all the good things they do for you.
- Help in return if you can.
- Count your blessings.
Where do we find gratitude? In Modern Psychology and every world religion?
Sonja Lyubomirsky, an American professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside, states that ‘the expression of gratitude is a kind of meta-strategy for achieving happiness’.
And Robert Emmons, one of the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude defines gratitude as -a felt a sense of wonder, appreciation and thankfulness for life and wrote in his essay ‘Why gratitude is good’ that ‘it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.’ And second Dr Emmons clarifies “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Psychologists, sociologists, and researchers have found that gratitude strengthens human relationship as there is also a recognition that others have helped us. Gratitude has a powerful impact on social connections. It creates bonds and memories as people remember those who helped and treated them well. They are eager to express gratitude and repay them.
Gratitude is recommended and practised in every major religion. Gratitude to God is at the core, centre of Christianity, Islam, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu traditions.
Psalm 9:1 1 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. The psalm of David and many more speaks of giving thanks and praising God.
Christians are strongly encouraged to give thanks. We found a beautiful excerpt of The Imitation of Christ, which summarises well the idea of gratitude.
Be grateful then for every little thing, and you will be worthy to receive greater things. Regard the least gift as great, and the most common as a special gift. If you consider the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem little or mean to you. For that is not little which is given by the most-high God. And even when he inflicts punishment and stripes, it should be acceptable to us; for whatever he permits he always does it for our salvation.
He, who desires to retain in himself the grace of God, let him be thankful for the grace given him, and resigned for that, which is withdrawn. Let him pray to receive it; lit him be cautious and humble so as not to lose it again. From the IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas A Kempis
Thanksgiving Day is also a potent reminder to practice thankfulness and gratitude, not only one special day a year, but all year long.
The teachings of the Buddha on Gratitude are found in the Kataññu Suttas (AN 2:31–32):
“Monks, I will teach you the level of a person of no integrity and the level of a person of integrity. Listen & pay close attention. I will speak.”
“As you say, lord,” the monks responded to him.
The Blessed One said, “Now what is the level of a person of no integrity? A person of no integrity is ungrateful & unthankful. This ingratitude, this lack of thankfulness, is advocated by rude people. It is entirely on the level of people of no integrity. A person of integrity is grateful & thankful. This gratitude, this thankfulness, is advocated by civil people. It is entirely on the level of people of integrity.”
A traditional Islamic saying states that “The first who will be summoned to paradise are those who have praised God in every circumstance”.
In the Quran it is also stated in Sura 14:7 ‘Also call to mind when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will certainly grant you more; but if you are ungrateful for My favours, my chastisement is terrible.‘
Even the daily prayers encourage believers to pray to God five times a day to thank him.
The sravanas and daily worships are filled with praises to God and ritual and worship, which expressed profound gratitude to God. The path of Bhakti is full of praise and gratitude to God.
In conclusion, “Wise men count their blessings; fools, their problems…” so let us be wise and count our blessings. It is essential to find time to practice gratitude in our busy daily schedule, it is never too late, or even when we are remarkably busy, we can always find time say a simple Thank You. As stated by Meister Eckhart, ‘ If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.’