With Thanksgiving coming up this month and with all the problems we are facing right now, I thought it would be good to write a few words about gratitude.

I found some very encouraging words in Psychology Today about gratitude.

Gratitude is the expression of appreciation for what one has. It is a recognition of value independent of monetary worth. Spontaneously generated from within, it is an affirmation of goodness and warmth. This social emotion strengthens relationships, and its roots run deep in evolutionary history—emanating from the survival value of helping others and being helped in return. Studies show that specific areas of the brain are involved in experiencing and expressing gratitude. Brain scans of people assigned a task that stimulates expression of gratitude show lasting changes in the prefrontal cortex that heighten sensitivity to future experiences of gratitude.

What is Gratitude

Gratitude is a spontaneous feeling but, increasingly, research demonstrates its value as a practice—that is, making conscious efforts to count one’s blessings. Studies show that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude—and there are important social and personal benefits to doing so. It is possible to feel grateful for loved ones, colleagues, animals, nature, and life in general. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inward and extends outward.

Why Gratitude Matters

Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health, even among those already struggling with mental health problems. Studies show that practicing gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions as resentment and envy, minimizing the possibility of ruminating, which is a hallmark of depression.

People who are grateful feel less pain, less stress suffer insomnia less, have stronger immune systems, experience healthier relationships, and do better academically and professionally. Overall it can boost both your mental and your physical health.

Grateful people are indeed less likely to have mental health problems like depression. One study found that a gratitude intervention was successful in reducing negative affect and increasing mental resilience in a group of older adults.

How to Cultivate Gratitude

Gratitude starts with noticing the goodness in life. A materialistic culture that encourages constant wanting and sees possessions as the source of happiness is not the most fertile ground for gratitude. But it is not an insurmountable barrier to developing it. Envy and especially cynicism and narcissism are similarly thieves of gratitude. In fact, the cultivation of gratitude may be at least a partial remedy for narcissism.

Tips to Foster Gratitude

  • Keep a journal in some way, note big and little joys of daily life.
  • Write down “three good things”—identify three things that have gone well for you and identify the cause.
  • Write thank-you notes to others.
  • Think about people who have inspired you and what about them was most significant.
  • Engage in “mental subtraction.” Imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.

I personally would like to echo the following feelings:
Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for blessings or benefits we have received. As we cultivate a grateful attitude, we are more likely to be happy and spiritually strong. We should regularly express our gratitude to God for the blessings He gives us and to others for the kind acts they do for us.

Gratitude is an uplifting, exalting attitude. People are generally happier when they have gratitude in their hearts. We cannot be bitter, resentful, or mean-spirited when we are grateful.

We should be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are ours and for the tremendous opportunities we have. We can be thankful to our parents, family, friends, and teachers. We should express appreciation to everyone who has assisted us in any way.

Bottom line, if you want to be happier express more gratitude.

I want to thank all of you for our friendships and associations. I wish all the best for you and yours during this special time of year.

Jim Schoneman
Brough Realty

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