Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The continuum of words related to gratitude go from greed and jealousy; through taking things for granted and feeling entitled; to appreciation, acceptance, and satisfaction. The practice of gratitude would be an appropriate prescription whichever one of the above describes your attitudes.

The rules of the grammar of gratitude are not as simple as they seem at first glance, however. For example, often instead of rejoicing in what we have, we greedily want something more, better, or different. We can't be grateful because we are making comparisons and coveting other possibilities.

When this happens on a personal level, when it's our ego that is dissatisfied, then we are ungrateful. But when we want something more, better, or different for the glory of God or for the benefit of the community, this greed may be a manifestation of our devotion, our love, or our yearning for justice. And then we are grateful for these commitments.


A growing number of studies show that if you express gratitude, you focus on what you have instead of what you lack. "It supports that old phrase that it's better to give than to receive," says psychiatrist Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. "People tend to feel better when they're being generous, when they're working toward the betterment of the world, doing volunteer work, etc. Gratitude is part of that."

Scientists now recognize that gratitude is associated with greater happiness. Here is how you can exercise your brain's thank you muscle:
Say thank you, even if it doesn't come naturally to you. "Even if you're faking it, what happens is you see a positive response from people, and that reinforces the behavior," says Miller.

Practice makes perfect. Say thank you regularly to get into the habit of being "emotionally generous," says Miller. "If we can practice the piano, we can practice things like gratitude."

Make your kids write thank you notes. "It's a good thing to do," says Miller.

People's happiness scores skyrocketed when University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman asked them to write and personally deliver a letter of gratitude to someone who hadn't been properly thanked for his kindness.

Look for the positive. "Keep your eyes open for what's awesome out there," says Miller. "There's plenty that is."

Count your blessings – and write them in a journal. Pick a number to shoot for – say, five.

Acknowledge what's good in your life instead of dwelling on what's bad. "Mindful of these positives, there's less opportunity for negativity to intrude without consideration," says psychologist Carl Hindy, co-author of If This Is Love, Why Do I Feel So Insecure? "You can keep your buoyancy and keep your head comfortably above the waterline when negatives try to pull you down."

Do a cost analysis. The price is right: saying "thank you" doesn't cost a dime. Yet it brings a big return on investment in the form of greater health and happiness.


Developing an attitude of sincere and "heartfelt gratitude"
for your current blessings unleashes the power
for receiving many more. Every Day Give Thanks.


                                                      JOIN IN!

One person can make a difference
There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
W. Clement Stone

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