The Importance of Gratitude

A man by the name of Alfred Painter once said, “Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” How true! Religions and philosophies have long embraced gratitude as an indispensable virtue needed to become an exemplary mortal. Thankfulness, which can be expressed toward loved ones, nature or the Universe, fills us with a sense of wonder and appreciation for all of life.

According to a study called Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving, those who regularly practice grateful thinking reap emotional, physical, and interpersonal benefits. Focusing on the gifts you have serve as an antidote to envy, resentment, regret and other negative states that undermine long-term happiness. In other words, gratitude is good for your health. With that said, let’s raise our glasses and start counting our blessings.

To do so, let’s take a look at some basic, yet essential, experiences in life.

Health is one of the most important things in life – just ask someone who does not have good health. We take our health for granted until our body fails us in some way. But really, every part of our body is needed right down to our baby toe. Even if you have lived with incredible pain or suffering from an illness, know that it could be worse, so be grateful that it is not. Also know that obsessing on the pain only keeps you down. Pain and suffering comes with being in physical form. It is what allows us to grow as spiritual beings. For instance, if you broke your femur don’t be thankful for in incident, instead, be grateful for the experience. Be thankful that the experience gave you a much needed break (pun intended), allowed you to finish a project or touch base with loved ones and old friends.

“True thankfulness is gratitude for life’s learning opportunities and for spirit being present to get the lesson to sink in,” says Dr. Charlene M. Proctor, Founder of The Goddess Network and author of Let Your Goddess Grow. Every circumstance no matter how painful, is meant to keep us learning on our soul journey. Living with an attitude of gratitude simply helps us manage life’s complexity.

The sun
Ah, that beautiful and magnificent ball of energy in the sky. We’ve been worshipping and relishing the sun for ages. It comes out every day. It’s as much a constant as change itself. And here in Southern California we can pretty much count on its warmth and light on a daily basis. It can brighten the darkest of moods. In fact sun triggers a response to the hormone melatonin which is in part responsible for preventing the blues. Research reveals that two hours of morning sun is effective in lifting depression. The sun also helps us reach our important daily allowance of Vitamin D and reduces our risk of osteoporosis. So let’s thank the sun for its shine!

Your tribe
We live in a fast-paced chaotic world. Your friends and family give life meaning and create a much needed support system. They make you laugh and give you joy. So be thankful that you are loved or at least tolerated and generally thought of as a positive force.

The not so obvious
The columnist Ann Landers was big on pointing out some of the obvious things in live. Here are just a few… be thankful for taxes because it means you have a job. Be grateful for your heating bill because it means you are warm. Be grateful for the parking space you finally find, because it means you have a car. Be grateful for the sound of a fire engine, because it means you can hear.

Your sleep
About a third of one’s life is spent in sleep – what many deem a useless state of being. But zzzz’s are tremendously vital. Ask any insomniac! We need sleep just as much as oxygen. It increases efficiency, extends your life, cures illnesses and prevents you from going crazy. Never skimp on sleep or feel bad for sleeping in.

Speaking of sleep, as you lay down to go to sleep, spend a moment to recount what you are grateful for on this day. It is a way to stay in tune with the good things around you. And if you’re a sour puss and need a little kick in the behind, try incorporating affirmations to remind you to be thankful for yourself. Dr. Charlene M. Proctor suggests these:

1. I can do anything I set my mind to
2. I help people whereever I go by being an example of strength and wisdom
3. I channel divine love to aid in this situation
4. I am supported by the universe where ever I go
5. My difficulties today allow me to cultivate wisdom. I am a wise soul!

We certainly have a lot to be grateful for – now enjoy reflecting on all the positive things in your life!

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