Each November many American families will gather around the Thanksgiving table and will say what they are thankful for. Thanksgiving for the Americans is known to be a time of expressing our gratitude.
Having gratitude is important as it helps us to live a healthier and happier life. How we view and use gratitude in our lives will directly impact the quality of our life. This is why having gratitude is so important for both our health and well being.
It is also why our expressing gratitude should not just be limited to just Thanksgiving but gratitude should be expressed throughout the year.
Why Is Gratitude Important?
It has been found that people who live their life with gratitude are generally happier and healthier. Being grateful for all our blessings helps individuals to be happy, spiritually strong, and mentally strong.
The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia or the Old French or medieval Latin meaning gratus, which means pleasing and thankful. This word gratus or gratitude is also a form of grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. When many Christians say they are full of grace, they also mean they are filled with gratitude.
The Oxford Dictionary defines gratitude as:
What is even more interesting is the synonyms of the word gratitude which include: gratefulness, thankfulness, thanks, appreciation, recognition, acknowledgment, regard, and respect.
Gratitude is about having a feeling of appreciation and thankfulness for all the blessings or benefits we have received in our life. It is not about how much or how little we have, but more about appreciating what we do have.
Gratitude is much bigger than our own life as gratitude is about our connecting with something, or someone greater than just ourselves. It can be said that gratitude is about looking outward not inward.
The opposite of gratitude is ungrateful. The synonyms for ungrateful are: unappreciative, unthankful, thankless, and ungracious. In other words basically being bitter, resentful, and mean-spirited or looking inward or into ourselves and our lives
If gratitude is about being selfless then ingratitude or being ungrateful is about being selfish. With gratitude, we are looking outward towards others and with ingratitude, we are looking inward towards ourselves.
Gratitude is Good For Your Health
It has been shown that gratitude helps people to feel more positive emotions in life, build strong relationships, deal better with life’s anxiety, and helps to improve our health. In other words, gratitude is good for our mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and physical health and wellbeing.
Last year we went to visit an old blind woman in a Lacquer village outside Hanoi. We do a lot of manufacturing in this village. We met this woman we will call Chi. Chi’s husband had died many years before, leaving her with two children to raise on her own. Forty years earlier her son had left her due to a disagreement they had about the small family land she had her small house on. Since then her son had not come back to visit his mother.
Chi was almost completely blind, and pretty much on her own. She was so poor that she had a leaky roof and lived in a house without a toilet or any sanitation facilities. Each time it rained her house would be drenched with water.
The day we came, she had hung out her bedding and the few clothes she had to dry in the sun from the heavy rains from the night before. She was so poor she could not even afford to fix her roof, so she lived each day in a damp wet flooded house.
With the help of the local village, we raised some funds to help Chi fix her roof and get a small toilet in her house and some running water. Local villagers volunteered their time to help her fix up her small house.
Chi was so grateful for the help she had received that many days she would hobble down her small alley to my friend’s house to express her appreciation and blessings for what she had been given.
(You can read more about Chi and other women we visited in his village by reading our blog post Loneliness, Old Age and Sickness in the Villages of Vietnam by clicking here.).
When I think of Chi I think about what she taught me about gratitude. Chi taught me that gratitude is not about how easy or how difficult your life is. Gratitude is not about whether or not you have a huge mansion or a small shack with a leaky roof. Gratitude is an attitude.
Cultivate Gratitude In Life
Cultivating gratitude in life will help you have a full life and happy life. Gratitude it is an attribute that we can all try to cultivate and grow. It is something we can work on to help our own wellbeing and bless the lives of others around us.
Here are some ways you can work to cultivate gratitude in life:
Write Thank You Notes
You will be happier and also nurture better relationships when you write to another person to thank them for something they have done for you. Or you can express to them your enjoyment or appreciation for them.
Send the note to them. Or better yet if you are able, then deliver it to them in person and let them know how much they mean to you.
Try to get into the habit to send at least one gratitude letter per month. If you don’t want to write it by hand then send it by email or better yet tell someone in person.
Every once in a while, also give yourself a break and write a thank you note to yourself.
As you so busy you do not have time to write a gratitude note to someone? Then make a mental note and thank them mentally.
Also, make a habit to thank strangers. If someone holds a door open for you, helps you carry a bag, or takes your shopping cart for you at the grocery store – smile and thank them. Be in the habit to always say “thank you.”
Keep A Gratitude Journal
Write down or share your thoughts about gratitude in the form of a gratitude journal. If you’re not able to do it in the journal, write it in a notebook or even on a posted note you can look at during the day. Take the time to write down all the things you are thankful for.
A gratitude journal helps you to focus on the positive things in your lives. By focusing on what you are thankful for, it improves our outlook on life.
Some people use the gratitude journal as part of a regular journal and each day write down 5 things they are thankful for. Others may just write down what they are thankful for when they have a reason to think of those things. However, you decide to use your gratitude journal, it can be a powerful tool for you to reflect upon and think about your blessings in life.
Count Your Blessings
Take some time each week to write five things that you are thankful for. If you’re not able to write them down you can go over the list in your mind. Actively counting your blessings will help you focus on all you are grateful for.
Pray To A Higher Being
Prayer to a higher being as God helps you to cultivate gratitude for all blessings. Express to God and list out to Him all your many blessings you are thankful for. Expressing your gratitude in the form of prayer, helps you to focus on your many blessings.
Mindfulness and meditation are about focusing on the present moment. It is about learning to try to clear your mind of all your worries and just focus on a word or phrase such as peace or gratitude. Mindfulness or meditation can help you focus on your positive blessings in life.
Gratitude is not just about saying thank you to someone – it is much more than that. Gratitude is an attitude and a way of life that we can all work to cultivate in our lives. If we do that we will have a happier and healthier life than we can ever imagine.
What Things Can We Learn From Our Ancestors?
We learn from our ancestors that family matters, education is important, and change can happen in life so we need to learn to deal with it. We also learn that people only know your story if you write it down and that our family traditions are important. We also learn from our ancestors about compassion, love, and gratitude.
What Are Some Lessons Learned in Grit and Perseverance From Nomadic Herders in Mongolia?
In Mongolia, the Nomadic herders spend their lives in very harsh conditions. Life is harsh, the weather is extreme, yet they continue to keep on going in life as they know somehow things will eventually get better. The Mongolian nomadic herders can teach us some important lessons in life, such as that bad things can happen in our lives, but we can choose not to be bitter. We can also choose to be grateful for all our blessings, while at the same time we can get up and get to work.
You can discover more by reading our blog 5 Lessons in Grit and Perseverance From Nomadic Herders in Mongolia by clicking here.