Word Of The Week: Gratitude

People around you, whether parents, partners or preachers, will tell you that you should be grateful. And you’ll no doubt try to be grateful and think that you ought to be grateful, even though, if truth be told, you sometimes feel anything but. Often, being told by someone else that you should be grateful seems to have the opposite effect – we might sink even deeper into complaint.

I must admit that there have been moments recently when I’ve been struggling to feel at all grateful – life does like to challenge us sometimes, doesn’t it! But rather than putting up with my moaning, I know you would prefer some encouragement from me – and a little help from others too – on the subject of gratitude: because you can gain so much yourself when you are grateful. Here’s what the Wikipedia entry states about gratitude:

Gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. The experience of gratitude has historically been a focus of several world religions, and has been considered extensively by moral philosophers such as Adam Smith … with the advent of the positive psychology movement, gratitude has become a mainstream focus of psychological research. The study of gratitude within psychology has focused on the understanding of the short term experience of the emotion of gratitude (state gratitude), individual differences in how frequently people feel gratitude (trait gratitude), and the relationship between these two aspects.

The Wikipedia article has quite a bit more to say on the subject – take a look for yourself here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratitude

And here’s what Daisaku Ikeda, President of the Soka Gakkai International (Buddhist movement for peace, education and culture) had to say about appreciation:

Appreciation is what makes people truely human. The Japanese word for thankful originally indicated a rare or unusual condition and later came to denote a sense of joyful appreciation for an uncommon occurrence. Having a spirit of appreciation for someone from whose actions we benefit, a sense that “this is the rarest and noblest thing”, produces in our hearts a sense of pride and self-esteem: “I am worthy of receiving such goodness”. It provides us with spiritual support to go on living.

Ikeda also said this about complaint versus gratitude:

The moment you start grumbling, complaining or harboring ill-feelings toward your fellow members, you immediately forfeit a substantial portion of all the good fortune you have worked so hard to attain. Therefore, if you’re practising faith, you stand to gain far more when you do so willingly, joyously and with a sense of gratitude.

What are you grateful for? Alternatively, what are you currently struggling with? Let me know by commenting on this blog post.

Related Reading

‘Gratitude’ – article in SGI Quarterly, Number 57, July 2009, p. 28

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