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What is Gratitude?

“How bad am I at gratitude?” Interesting question, isn’t it? Most of us are so wrapped up in our day that we just don’t notice much. Let’s start a short list of stuff we could be grateful for if someone made us stop, look, listen, and think.

  • I woke up this morning. Pretty cool, huh.
  • I haven’t finished my homework or project. I live in a country that allows me to go to school.
  • I only have time to drink orange juice before leaving for school. I can have a full breakfast if I want.
  • Mom doesn’t understand I’m tired and want to stay in bed. Someone cares enough about me to yell and get me moving. When I see my friends, I’ll forget how tired I thought I was.
  • That class was so lame. Some of my classes are really cool. I can hardly wait to start on the team project.
  • I’d rather play games with my friends than do homework. I have friends. I enjoy sports. We can build sensational stuff in Minecraft (by the way that means I have a computer, gaming console and video games). Once I do my homework, I’ll have time for everything else.
  • I want a car. Someday I’ll have a car.

Recently studies indicate that sending letters to people thanking them for something specific helps us deal with mental health issues. Don’t forget the counseling. MRI’s taken months after gratitude letters were written showed greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (affects decision making, long term memory retrieval, personality expression and social behavior).

Disadvantages to being grateful? It takes sacrifice – time and thought. It kills self-pity, jealousy, bitterness, regret, making it difficult to stay friends with negative people. Does not stop bad stuff from happening.

Upside? Fast acting tool for personal transformation. Natural mood enhancer. Helps us get through bad stuff. Realization that we have the power to transform an obstacle into an opportunity. More friends. Longer life.

Difficult choice, huh?

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