Every language in the world has a way of saying “thank you’. We take this for granted and in doing so negate a whole world of possibility. By viewing gratitude as a given we avoid being in touch with some of our greatest gifts.
So what is gratitude and how will this help in learning to balance our lives and ground us?
Gratitude crosses all boundaries – creed, age, vocation, gender and nation. It is essentially the recognition of the unearned increments of value in one’s experience. The Latin root of the word gratitude is grata – a given gift – and from the same root we get our word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.
Gratitude is a strong feeling that we feel from within. It is usually a spontaneous feeling. However, it remains a choice – we can choose to feel grateful or we can choose to feel ungrateful. As a choice gratitude becomes an attitude or disposition.
Attitude is how we show up in the world. Attitude is from within. We choose how we show up and how we integrate ourselves in the world. In order to open up opportunities for ourselves rather than shut them down – gratitude as an attitude and daily practice keeps the heart open regardless of what comes our way.
To cultivate gratitude in our daily lives will help us to develop character. Having the capacity for gratitude will help us with other virtues like generosity, humility, compassion, wisdom, joy, integrity and trust. All of these invite and open positive interactions and experiences for us.
Starting our day with gratitude allows us to connect to the very best in ourselves. It also allows us to see and connect with others and with life itself.
We know we are off-balance yet we struggle to align ourselves. We allow the noise out there to interfere with what we already have. We are blinded by peer pressure, social media, computers, greed and other obsessions. Rarely do we realise that if we simply start our day marvelling at life’s gifts and give thanks to them, we activate positive opportunities and virtues which will naturally increase the possibilities in our world.