Gratitude is totally in; gratitude is super trendy. It's one of the few big trends I'm totally on board with worldwide. Out of those old, dusty, wise books, it's come back as this idea that you can scientifically investigate and draw conclusions about how effective it is in our everyday lives and the business world. It's fantastic news that the wisdom of our ancestors is timeless, and there's no reason to feel embarrassed about it; we need to keep up the practice of gratitude.
These days, we have incredible opportunities for scientific research, including analyzing the origins of emotions and their impact on humans. One of the individuals who delved into human happiness and the effects of practicing gratitude is Professor of Positive Psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky from the University of California. Based on her conducted studies, in her book titled "The How of Happiness," she suggests that:
The benefits of practicing gratitude include increasing happiness and overall well-being. When a person expresses gratitude to others, it can strengthen the sense of connection and encourage reciprocity, ultimately contributing to the quality of relationships. She recommends this as a key to achieving sustainable happiness.
As a practical method, she recommends keeping a gratitude journal, where individuals write down what they're thankful for each day. It improves mood and encourages people to reflect positively on the good things in their lives. Each of us is unique and should find our own best way to express gratitude that resonates with our individuality.
"Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worries, and irritations. It's like savoring. It is not taking things for granted. It's present-orientated."
Another scientist, this time a neuroscience, is Dr. Glenn Fox, who at the University of Southern California has focused on the neural correlates of gratitude, empathy, and neuroplasticity. It sounds mysterious to non-experts, but it's about investigating the neural mechanisms underlying the experience of gratitude using brain imaging techniques. Based on his conducted research, he noticed that:
The feeling of gratitude activates neurons in parts of our brain responsible for reward, empathy, and social cognition, mainly in the prefrontal cortex areas. It positively impacts brain activity and its neural pathways. It can help people control their emotions and experience better well-being. It contributes to improving interpersonal and social connections. But it also strengthens our resilience and optimism and even promotes better sleep.
These are just some studies on the effects of practicing gratitude, and it must be acknowledged that they show purely positive outcomes, both in building a happy life and enhancing relationships with others in society and business.
Since we already know that gratitude is beneficial scientifically, let's approach the topic from a spiritual perspective. It's a subject known since the beginning of the world. From the records in the Hindu Mahabharata, through the writings of the Egyptian vizier Ptahhotep's maxims (around 2400 BCE), to Greek philosophers like Plato or Romans like Cicero, Chinese aphorisms of Confucius, all the way to contemporary teachings like those of Eckhart Tolle, which inspire or even mandate the practice of gratitude.
This method is related to the heart chakra. Most of us have blocks or personal traumas associated with expressing and receiving Love. These can sometimes be deeply ingrained patterns. Practicing gratitude gently and painlessly opens the gateway to the heart and inner child. Sometimes it can be more challenging, especially when going through a difficult personal process, and everything around you seems dark and senseless. When you're in a depression, grief, or even the opposite, in great anger or resentment, there's no need to pretend to be grateful. A fundamental principle of practicing it is being honest with yourself and your emotional state when you give thanks for something. I do not advocate forced gratitude because you have to or because it will help me.
Each of us has pleasant moments in life, and it's worth reaching for them. It can be something from childhood, the smell of grandma's cake, or the memory of a beloved dog's face, anything that brings warmth to the middle of your chest. It should be sincere and not fake. Don't deceive yourself; you won't build lasting changes on the sands of falsehood. These pleasant memories are like anchors on a ship. They keep you in reality, connected to the ground, so you can realistically look at your life here and now. You don't need to do anything else. Just find the beautiful little things. Wipe the tears from your face, lift your head, and look around you. The world still exists even though you're experiencing a tragedy. Start noticing other things or situations in your life and thank them. As you practice over time, you'll eventually reach a point where you'll start thanking yourself for every mistake, error or even for people who hurt you. Difficult situations or adversaries are strict teachers on our path back to our power. Thank them for the lesson they've given you. Think about where you would be without them and what you've learned. And this isn't about forgiveness. Here, we're thanking you for everything. With time, you'll start your day by saying thank you for being and end it by thanking you for the day.
The quickest way to learn to practice gratitude is in nature. When you're in the mountains, by the sea, or in the forest, and you start giving thanks for it, you'll feel that pleasant warmth in your chest faster. That's a sign that the heart chakra is opening, allowing for timid feelings. Warmth in the body, peace, relaxation, and even spontaneous meditation arises. Nature supports you back, reciprocating this pleasant state with positive vibrations. No words are needed here, just feeling.
Scientific evidence and spiritual teachings clearly state that gratitude is one of the tools for personal happiness. We delve deeper into experiencing Love, which is the remedy for everything.
Thank you for reading this article. May it serve you well.
Gratitude for an amazing, pink sunset at The Red Sea, El Gouna, Egypt