Sometimes we pronounce it accompanied by a smile ; others, reluctantly. But in most cases it arises automatically , as a mere courtesy formula. That is why many of the ‘graces’ we say are far from what should inspire them: gratitude . This emotion arises in response to the recognition of a favor that has been granted to us. It is a pure and deep feeling, as well as powerful . It is capable of changing our attitude, our state of mind, our way of interpreting our circumstances and the reality that surrounds us. In addition, it also has the ability to change the responses or reactions of our interlocutors, and ultimately, to transform our relationships. We could say that ‘thank you’ is, without a doubt, a magic word.
The truth is that its mere mention opens doors and hearts . Among many other benefits, it works as a kind of social lubricant that facilitates relationships with all the people in our environment. But beyond practicality , gratitude is also an attitude towards life. Maybe it’s time to consider what does gratitude bring? How does it influence our relationships? And what are the effects of being grateful?
When we feel grateful we connect with abundance in all its dimensions. Not in vain, we are able to value and appreciate all those things that we take for granted every day. Things as simple as when you press a switch the light comes on, or when you turn on the tap in the shower hot water flows. A simple gesture of affection , an unexpected smile or an instant of harmony. Unfortunately, we often tend to forget or ignore those things that we are ‘used to’ and which we consider ‘ insured ‘. The vast majority of human beings tend to focus on everything that we lack , or what we would like to have. We live installed in the desire and the expectation . And the direction of our focus of attention marks our behaviors, our attitudes, our goals and ultimately, our way of experiencing and interpreting our circumstances. In this scenario, gratitude appears as an antidote that makes us position ourselves in a much healthier and more constructive place when facing the obstacles that life puts us.
When saying thank you is not enough
Although we learn to thank from a young age, we rarely pay attention to the true meaning of this word. It comes from the Latin ‘ gratia ‘, which derives from ‘ gragus ‘, whose meaning is pleasant or grateful . But what does it mean to be grateful? Broadly speaking, it means recognizing the attitude, behavior or action of someone who has a positive influence on our lives. Giving thanks is the most common, spontaneous and immediate response when this situation emerges, but beyond conventionalism there are thousands of ways to show our gratitude. Often, the word ‘thank you’ falls short . It is so worn out from use that it has lost meaning and content. Hence the importance of turning it into action . In this way, we demonstrate to the other person that we truly appreciate what you have said, done or shared
To make tangible our gratitude, small details are a vehicle more powerful than words.
In this scenario, creativity takes the reins. It is put on the skin of the other – exercising our empathy – and find a gesture that allows us to show that we value and we felt lucky to be part of our lives. And even if we do it for him, it also affects us. Gratitude teaches us the satisfaction that exists in being accomplices of the happiness of others. The joy of giving, contributing and sharing. And on the other hand, it balances our tendency to focus on ‘receiving’ or ‘achieving’ everything we want. Because when we live focused on receiving, we position ourselves in scarcity . We start from the basis that we lack ‘something’. And we assume the role of ‘victims’. But this attitude ends up taking our toll . It causes conflicts in our relationships, and it distances us from the well-being that we long for.
To connect with gratitude we have to gain in flexibility and lose in rigidity. Not in vain, to thank everything has to do with appreciating, appreciating and living in the present . That means learning to make peace with the fact that life in general is not what we think it should be. Not in vain, expectations and our vision of reality have a decisive influence on our ability to thank. However, gratitude is a muscle . As we train her, we see more and more things for which we feel grateful. That is why it is a good idea to put into practice a very simple exercise , proposed by the father of positive psychology, Martin Selligman: for a week, every night, before going to bed, to think about three things that have happened to us that day that we make them feel grateful. It is the first step to start seeing our life from a more constructive perspective. The first day can be difficult, but if we are constant we can see how it always appears in a more natural way.
Thanks to the appreciation comes the assessment in a natural way. That is, the ability to appreciate what we are, what we have and what we do in the present moment. Paradoxically, the more we value our existence, the more abundance we experience in the emotional dimension of our life. The culture of gratitude gives us the necessary perspective to respond in the most efficient, responsible and conscious way possible to the challenges and unforeseen issues that arise in our day to day. Ultimately, our ability to appreciate and value what is part of our life is as unlimited as our imagination is. And that is precisely what allows us to fully enjoy our existence.
The art of valuing and appreciating
Authentic gratitude is born from learning derived from everything we have lived. To develop it, we have to be able to modify our way of thinking , not interpreting everything that happens to us as “problems” to begin to see the “learning opportunities” that lie behind each ‘complicated’ situation. So we can break the vicious circle that leads us to remember each time something we consider ‘bad’ happens, and forget many of the times that something positive or beneficial happens to us. After all, all the stumbles , mistakes and blunders hold valuable lessons. They shape and sculpt us until we define the person we are.
At this point, it is worth exploring what happens when we are the object of the gratitude of others. When someone thanks us, awakens a pleasant feeling inside us. And it’s worth to enjoy it . But we have to be careful not to fall prey to the certainty that we owe that gratitude. From time to time it is useful to question our motivations to verify if they are aligned with our values. If our gesture is genuinely disinterested , we will not be disturbed by thinking, “How can it be that you do not thank me?” Rather, we will receive whatever comes (or does not come) with the conviction that we have been consistent with ourselves.
Practicing gratitude is a task that requires as much perseverance as determination . It happens to honor all the small gestures and details that we live in our day to day with hope . For making us more aware of the meaning of that magic word, ceasing to use it as a mere courtesy formula. And above all, to implement gratitude as an attitude. I take advantage of these last lines to thank you sincerely for your time and complicity . If they did not give me their attention, I would not have the chance to do something that I’m passionate about: writing. Thanks !