Living gratefully
April 28, 2014
by Jenni Sebora

Gratitude. Oprah says that gratitude is the single most defining feeling that will make an impact on our lives.

Gratefulness is transforming. Overtly practicing gratitude can lead to the instrinsic feeling of being grateful. We should practice gratitude every day. Studies show that people who do report many benefits.

Practicing gratitude daily and being more grateful can, and does have positive psychological, social, and physical impacts.

Robert Emmons, known as the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, noted in an article, “Why Gratitude is Good,” that he and his cohort have studied more than 1,000 people, ages 8 to 80, on the subject of gratitude. The studies revealed that people who practice gratitude regularly do report positive impacts.

The benefits people have reported include lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems, tendency to exercise more and take better care of health, greater alertness and wakefulness, greater joy, pleasure, optimism, more generosity, forgiveness, and less feelings of loneliness.

In another article, from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, “The Importance of Gratitude,” it was relayed that people who are grateful report lower levels of depression, and focus more on the positive things in their lives.

How does one practice gratitude? My students and I have gratitude journals that we write in at the beginning of the day. We don’t worry about spelling or punctuation. We just note something that we are grateful for in that moment, the previous day, or generally in our lives. I believe this is a good lesson for all of us.

For one thing, it starts the day off on a positive note. It gets us thinking about what we have, instead of what we don’t have. These are blessings. Acknowledgement of blessings can lead us to being more positive about our lives. Being more positive, and grateful thinking certainly catapults us into feeling more joy and pleasure, and being more generous and helpful.

It does not mean that things will always be easy, but with a conscious effort of being grateful, it is much easier to find joy and feel joy and prevail through the downs in our lives. There is always someone who has “less” than we have.

Samuel Butler said that a day is not just another day, but each day is a gift. We should begin each day when we open our eyes with the acknowledgement and gratefulness that we have eyes to open. There are colors all around us, and these colors should be viewed as a gift of enjoyment. We should look up to the sky and see the clouds, appreciate their form, and know that they will never be the same as they were that day.

This is gratitude. Nature around us is astounding. If we take some time each day to really observe and see a wonder of nature, we know that we are blessed. We have more gifts around us than we can count, than we deserve.

Being grateful and living gratefully is a gift to oneself, and, in turn, is a gift to others. If we live more gratefully, we have a tendency to want to share it with others. What a lesson we can teach our children.

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