Gratitude-Delicious...Take a Bite!

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” Thich Nhat Hanh

I’m still deciding whether I’m a pessimist or not. I can get lost in negative thinking, distracted by a nagging cloud of the blues. Then, with the help of my 3-breaths I can call up my passion for expression, art, dance, kindness, generosity. I can exhale slowly, knowing the many ways that I have found buoyancy in the face of grief, depression and adversity.

This tenacity is attached to my sweetest secret. GRATITUDE!--I’m addicted.  Why gratitude? Because it saves lives. I’m serious. In fact, psychologists have shown that “doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we have tested.” (Martin Seligman, PhD).

So, what good is gratitude?

Why might gratitude have transformative effects on people’s lives?

Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present. It magnifies positive emotions. Research on emotion shows that positive emotions wear off quickly. Our emotional system likes newness. It likes novelty. It likes change. The problem is we adapt to positive life circumstances so that before too long the new car, spouse, or shiny toy don’t feel so new and exciting anymore. Gratitude helps us appreciate the value of something. And when we appreciate something’s value, we extract more benefits from it. We’re less likely to take it for granted.

In effect, gratitude allows us to participate more in life. We notice the positives more, and that magnifies the pleasures we get from life. We spend so much time watching things—movies, computer screens, sports—but with gratitude we become greater participants in our lives as opposed to spectators.

This is a wonderful day. I’ve never this one before.” Maya Angelou

Rachel Fleischman