Dorado, Puerto Rico
None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy.Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
The team has so much to be thankful for, both as a group and individually. The last four months have been time well spent with each other and all the wonderful people we have met in Georgia and Puerto Rico. This journey has been a full one, and our team is no different. Anyone who visited our home in Puerto Rico couldn’t miss our hallway. It reflected the state of our team. Both walls were filled with words of affirmation and sweet truths God revealed to each member of our team. It is a place filled with expression of love and thoughts of gratitude. This cultivated an atmosphere of joy in our home. Our students would wander into the kitchen in the mornings and walk to their name on the wall to see if anyone left a note of encouragement. Gratitude was a significant and sought after piece of their days, and it made me wonder, “Why is gratitude so important?”
Scholar Robert Emmons, wrote an article entitled, “Why Gratitude is Good.” In it, he shares his findings of a study he conducted with some of his colleagues at Berkley, regarding the effects being grateful has on the body, mind and relationships. Here is an eyeopening excerpt:
“We’ve studied more than one-thousand people, from ages 8 to 80, and found that people who practice gratitude consistently report a host of benefits:
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.
The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.
Indeed, this cuts to the very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.
The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
There have been a host of reasons our team has discovered in exercising gratitude, but it seemed like the benefits were evident when we practiced it. Where do you need to practice gratitude where you have been stuck in pessimism? Take a second look at those benefits, and do yourself a favor – practice gratitude. It did wonders for our team.