With Thanksgiving only one day behind us, and in the wake of the tragedy in Paris, I’ve been thinking a lot about gratitude as the affirmation of goodness and how important it is we acknowledge there are good things in the world—things that are sometimes intangible gifts, but they still benefit us in many ways.
Robert Emmons, a scientific expert on gratitude says, “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.”
Individual goodness is measured by what we embrace, what we create and who we include. By practicing gratitude we strengthen our relationships and feel closer and more committed to others. Gratitude promotes forgiveness. Studies have shown that gratitude even lowers your levels of stress hormones.
Most of us feel grateful when good things happen in our lives, but we don't put as much emphasis on daily thankfulness as we could. Thanksgiving is about gratitude and unlike most other holidays there is nothing commercial about it. Families and friends gather for a good meal and to express their love and thanks. Many volunteer to work in soup kitchen and donate dinners to the poor. But it is only one day. Every day provides us with a chance to make a difference in our own lives and in the lives of others.
So often we gloss over the little happinesses and glimpses of beauty. Slow down and take a moment to savor them. Watch how the light filters through the pine branches or reflects off the snow. Stand at the edge of the ocean and prepare to be astonished. If we spend more time counting blessings and considering our own mortality, gratitude will become an active part of our lives. And if we choose a path of gratefulness, happiness will follow. Gratitude will turn what we have into more than enough.