Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is crucial to character growth and health. But doing so can be quite the challenge these days. For decades, ours has been an entitled, narcissistic culture. So, attitudes of expectation and presumption are common. Moreover, there are some among us who don’t share in the material prosperity so many enjoy. And this often causes bitterness and other emotions inherently antagonistic to feeling grateful. Others live with deep physical, emotional, or situational pain. Such circumstances also make it difficult to feel grateful. Treasuring the gift of life is particularly challenging when one’s life is a life of pain and hardship. Still, finding room in one’s heart for gratitude is of paramount importance. And it’s a real testament to the character of some folks that they can find it in their heart to be grateful, even in the face of misfortune.
Why is being grateful so important? Mainly, because of all the other positive sentiments it inspires. It’s pivotal to forging noble character, too. And in today’s world, such character is in dangerously short supply. Gratitude is not only essential to character but also to emotional, moral, and spiritual health. Simply put, gratitude is good for you, and in countless ways. And there’s plenty of research data to back up what I’m asserting here. An entitled heart is often an angry, spiteful, chronically hungry heart. Such a heart is never satisfied or at peace. But a grateful heart is a happy heart. And happy-hearted folks are infectious with the joy and goodwill they spread.
Gratitude: Truly an Attitude
Being grateful is without question a state of mind. But it’s a state of mind that must be cultivated. So how does one cultivate an attitude of gratitude? By acting gratefully. That’s right. It sounds simple, maybe even hokey. But it’s both true and powerful. We all know that when we’re in a good frame of mind we tend to do positive things. But what many forget is that what we do profoundly affects our state of mind. (See: Chapter 2, Essentials for the Journey.) So, when we do positive things, it helps us develop a good frame of mind.
Here’s my sincerest hope for everyone on this Thanksgiving holiday:
Generously display your gratitude for all you have and to all with whom you come into contact. Spread the infection. Let everyone catch it. Welcome all comers to your banquet. Savor the fare! And be at peace.
This week’s Character Matters installment also conveys my well-wishes for the Thanksgiving holiday.