What does gratitude mean? You might think that is a silly question. And it probably is if you simply look at it in a shallow fashion. Instead, spend some serious time looking into it and you might be surprised at what you find.
When you really understand gratitude and the science behind it, you develop an appreciation for it as a tool to change your life. And that is not an exaggeration. A real tool that can work wonders.
The majority of people take gratitude for granted. It is a once-in-a-while feeling they experience. And that’s enough. Only it isn’t. Those people are leaving so much on the table. There is so much more people can derive from an attitude of gratitude.
Gratitude’s definition is simply: "The state of being thankful for what you have and where you are." But knowing what its definition is and using it in the most efficient way are two very different things.
And the good news is gratitude is easy to practice. Of course, anything that is easy to do is also easy not to do. Don’t let that be you. Don’t take gratitude for granted.
Did you know that gratitude is a natural antidepressant? Science has shown that being grateful releases the hormones of serotonin and dopamine. Two hormones that help produce the state of happiness. So if you want more happiness, one thing you can do that doesn’t take a lot of time and effort is find ways to be more grateful.
Here is just a little of what science has to say:
“The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA stated that gratitude does change the neural structures in the brain, and make us feel happier and more content.”
Science has also shown that if you think of three things each day you are grateful for, and do that for three weeks, you will notice a significant increase in feelings of happiness. Isn’t that easy?
"Something as simple as writing down three things you're grateful for every day for 21 days in a row significantly increases your level of optimism, and it holds for the next six months. "The research is amazing," Harvard researcher and author Shawn Achor has told Inc.com. Other studies show gratitude increases willpower, helps keep you calm, and can even boost employee morale.
Who doesn't want more willpower and more calmness? Especially in this age of rapid change.
In addition, with thoughts about gratitude, you are strengthening neural pathways in the brain making it easier to be happy in the future. How good it that? You are actually rewiring your brain for happiness.
With all of the above in mind, the question "What does gratitude mean," has more implications for a good life than you might have imagined before. The science of gratitude literally proves there are important health benefits practicing gratitude.
Here’s something easy you can do, starting today, that will affect your future happiness. Make a list of everything you can think of that you are grateful for - A gratitude list. Keep that list handy and add words of gratitude as often as possible.
Earlier I talked about the benefit of coming up with three things that occur to you every day for three weeks. Why stop at three weeks? Keep going. Make it a habit. For instance, why not make it part of your morning routine. The heck with 21 days. If 21 days have the benefits listed above, what will 365 days a year do for you? What does gratitude mean? It means a life time of more willpower, calmness, and happiness.
Some people keep a Gratitude Journal. Maybe that is something you would like to begin. Then, you will find it easy to go back and see what your thoughts of gratitude were and how those thoughts have affected your attitude in life. It will put a smile on your face.
If you live in a developed country, you have so much to be grateful for because of the achievements of the generations of people who have come before you. Here are some categories and items to be grateful for:
Transportation For most of mankind’s history you had the choices of walking, riding a horse, or riding a horse and buggy. Think how long it would have taken to go on vacation. In most cases…you probably would not have been able to go on vacation because of the distance. Now we have:
Medical The average life expectancy for most of human history was from the 20s to the 40s. So many people died at childbirth. During most of human history, there were no hospitals or doctors. And there were no miracle drugs that prolonged human life making our life expectancy so much higher. What if there was no insulin, or blood pressure medicine? Or so many other life saving drugs? Think how much misery people would feel if these drugs did not exist. Now we have:
Agriculture - Most of mankind spent their days in agriculture. Grueling work without machines. Now, only a small number of humans farm because machines can produce so much.
Heating and Air Conditioning - Imagine if you didn’t have heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. Year after year after year. How many people would die from pneumonia for instance? And imagine if cars had no heat or air conditioning. They didn’t for decades. I know...I'm 70 years old.
Computers - Changed the world. The personal computer made the Internet available to the average person. And now with Artificial Intelligence (AI) coming into existence, there is no telling what the future holds.
The Internet - Also, changed the world and continues to do so. That is happening both in business and socially. It shows connectivity matters.
There is so much more that could be listed, but you get the idea. The Industrial Revolution and the Computer Revolution truly changed the course of our world. We have so much to be grateful for.
What does gratitude mean? Let’s see what some successful people have said about gratitude.
“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” - Willie Nelson
“Learn to be thankful for what you already have, while you pursue all that you want.” - Jim Rohn
"Things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out." - John Wooden
"This a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before." - Maya Angelou
“I was complaining that I had no shoes till I met a man who had no feet.” - Confucius
“(Some people) have a wonderful capacity to appreciate again and again, freshly and naively, the basic goods of life, with awe, pleasure, wonder, and even ecstasy.” - A.H. Maslow
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” - Tony Robbins
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life.” - Rumi
“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” - Zig Ziglar
“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” - Epictetus
“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.” - Doris Day
“It is impossible to feel grateful and depressed in the same moment.” -Naomi Williams
“Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not.” - Marcus Aurelius
So we find there are people with daily words of gratitude who have turned their lives around. What does gratitude mean to them? Just about everything. With that in mind, doesn't it make sense to try it for three weeks to see how it will work for you? What do you have to lose? You may find the question, "What does gratitude mean?" has a lot more relevance for you than you initially thought. You might find yourself keeping a gratitude journal and enjoying it.
Go to the top of this page about What Does Gratitude Mean And Why Should You Care?
Go to the Article Index.
Go to the Word and Phrases Index.