During this blog series on our spirituality conference website, we have been exploring what it means to be human. In this blog, we will dive into what community is, and why it is an important value for all of humanity to share.
Gratitude is an integral part of human nature. If it wasn’t, would every language have a word to express “thank you”? Would millions of people across the world say grace before each meal? Would we give people gifts on their birthdays? Across countries, religions, generations, and languages, we as humans all participate in the important practice of gratitude because it is our natural disposition to be grateful. Gratitude is seen in every corner of the earth, yet we do not always prioritize it as a species. So what is gratitude, and how does it make us human, why should we bother, and how might we incorporate it into our lives? In this blog, we will explore these questions.
What is gratitude?
Gratitude is the recognition and appreciation of things we are thankful for. Gratitude is a universal human experience that can be recognized among humans everywhere. It is easy to connect gratitude to gifts, especially when you look at the latin root, of the word, “gratia,” which means gift. Just as you thank someone when they give you a gift, you must express gratitude for the blessings upon your life. Gratitude comes naturally to us, but in our busy, modern world, people get distracted and forget to regularly be thankful for what they have. Yet research has shown that gratitude can be incredibly beneficial to many elements of our lives, including emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically.
How does gratitude makes us human?
Gratitude is about connecting with the world around us. It is about keeping perspective. Gratitude acts as a uniting force among humankind. Expressing gratitude is a crucial part of our survival. It strengthens our relationships to each other, and creates a powerful ripple effect to the rest of the earth. The strength of the relationships in our personal lives creates more gratitude. As you express gratitude to and for your friend, it opens up them to be more grateful as well. In turn, they express gratitude to other people in their lives, and the gratitude spreads far and wide.
Benefits of gratitude
Gratitude can have a powerful impact on our lives in a positive way. Most simply, gratitude makes us happy. When we feel the happiness and satisfaction that comes with gratitude, we also feel more optimism, pleasure, and joy. Additionally, gratitude has proven to have a powerful impact on our physical and mental health. It helps us sleep better, it lowers blood pressure, it improves immunity, and it makes us less affected by the aches and pains of disease. Gratitude also makes us resilient in the face of trauma, and makes us more compassionate.
How to be grateful
Clearly, when we incorporate gratitude into our daily lives, we see improvements both personally and in the world around us. Therefore, we must all prioritize feeling and expressing gratitude. Here are some ways we can all emphasize gratitude in our lives:
- Write down three things you are thankful for each day. You can do this in a journal, or you can great creative and write each on a piece of paper you put in a jar. At the end of the year, you can empty the jar and read through everything that made you grateful to reflect on the good things in your life.
- Share appreciation daily. Whether it is a quick compliment to your spouse or a moment of reflection the beauty of the sunrise, take a moment out of each day to appreciate something and express it.
- Abstain from complaining. You may not be able to do this forever, but take a week where you swear you will not complain at all. You may be surprised to realize the way your thoughts improve and you spend less time reflecting on the negative.
- Reflect with gratitude on negative situations. When you face challenges, it can be difficult to see what you should appreciate, but practice reflecting back for a reason to be grateful while being as neutral as possible. This will make it even easier to identify places for gratitude in your daily life.
Donate your time or money to a cause. Contributing directly to something you care about will make you grateful for your life as a whole.
Once you incorporate more gratitude into your life, the positive effects extend to those around you as well. At our spirituality conference in Finland, we aim to explore humanity and what it means to be human, as well as what we as humans can do to improve the world as a whole. Stay tuned for more information on our future spirituality conferences.