Table of Contents
Introduction … 6
Chapter 1 – Defining Gratitude 8
Gratitude as a State of Being …. 10
Gratitude as an Emotion . 11
Chapter 2 – Finding Gratitude in Society …. 13
Gratitude in Today’s Time….15
Chapter 3 – Using Gratitude in Your Relationships … 17
Communicating Gratitude… 18
Chapter 4 – The Power of Positive Emotions and Gratitude . 21
Benefits of Gratitude.. 24
Chapter 5 – Mindfulness, Meditation, and Gratitude 26
Mindful Living Day-to-Day . 29
Mindfulness Practice Through Meditation .. 29
Practicing Gratitude Mediation.31
Chapter 6 – Unbalanced Gratitude….33
Superficial Gratitude . 34
Obligatory Gratitude.. 36
Reestablishing Balance… 36
Chapter 7 – How Gratitude Empowers.. 38
Become More Optimistic 39
Become More Thankful ..40
Become More Energized.40
Find Meaning in Life ..41
Become More Sociable…. 42
Chapter 8 – How to Learn Gratitude 43
They Have Realistic Expectations of Life 44
They Are Unconditionally Happy.. 44
They Accept That the Good Comes With the Bad.. 45
They Are Optimistic… 45
Chapter 9 – Developing Gratitude Habits… 46
Developing Habits 47
Practicing Giving .. 49
Writing Gratitude . 50
Chapter 10 – Cultivating Gratitude in Your Life ….52
Gratitude Meditation Practice.. 53
Gratitude Meditation Journal Practice … 55
Gratitude Journal Practice .. 56
Gratitude Breathing… 57
Gratitude Reminders . 57
Family Gratitude Practice…. 58
Gratitude Letter …. 59
Thank-you Notes ..60
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Gratitude is an empathic emotion, which means that in order to experience the emotion in exchange, the receiver needs to place himself in the position of the giver. A feeling of gratitude in response to the gift requires the recipient of the gift to sense the giver’s positive intention. It is this recognition and empathic connection that provides the foundation for the emotional experience of gratitude in the interaction.
We can express gratitude for any number of reasons. We can be grateful for receiving personal benefits, such as advice from a mentor, or we can be grateful for material items, like a gift, our home, or a car. Gratitude can also be fostered through interpersonal fulfillment, such as getting a hug from a friend. Or, we can experience gratitude for a monetary gain, like getting a raise at work.
Chapter 2 – Finding Gratitude in Society
When we look at the United States today, many see a rich and powerful nation that is admired. It is not respected so much for its military might and technological advancements, but for the freedoms that its citizens enjoy, which enable them to strive to achieve their dreams.
The founding values of the nation are what laid the template for everyone who came after the bloody war for independence. The United States and what it is today was shaped by wave after wave of immigrants who adopted our values, putting the country on its path of progress.
While the initial years were tough for these new immigrants, they learned to adapt, and survived the first few bleak winters. Realizing that hard work was the only way to forge ahead and succeed in their new lives, the learned to express gratitude for what they had been given in their new home of opportunity. It was this gratitude for the simple gifts they received, like a roof over their heads and food on the table, which allowed them to progress in the best possible way.
As proven by those that came before us, gratitude can play a seminal role in shaping your destiny and your life.
Gratitude in Today’s Time
In today’s highly consumerist society, where quarterly growth figures have become a measure of a nation’s standing or where possessing a killer instinct is considered a great asset, the question then becomes whether or not gratitude has a place in our society.
While we are all still pursuing happiness, our ways of finding it varies. For some, we try to obtain it through service and charity, while others try to find it in esoteric books and at the feet of gurus. Unfortunately, for the majority of us, we try to find happiness through material acquisition. This has turned the society into one that feels it is entitled to all it receives and obtains, and shuns the idea of expressing gratitude for all that we have. Things are now viewed, by many, through the prism of sales and purchase, and some even view both relationships and possessions from a useand- discard perspective.
Thankfully, gratitude is just as contagious as materialism. As soon as you realize that gratitude can help you reach the happiness and greatness you’ve been chasing.
Chapter 3 – Using Gratitude in Your Relationships
It is easy to get caught up in the hectic routine of everyday living and forget to express our appreciation to those that matter to us the most. Take a moment to think about the relationships in your life and consider a time when you felt gratitude for that person. One of the most common mistakes we can make in our relationships is the assumption error. This occurs when we assume that someone in our life knows what we are thinking or feeling, or when we believe that someone else should know what we are thinking or feeling. The problem with this is that if we don’t let those people in our lives that are important to us know that they matter, they don’t know that they matter.
For most of us, we have stopped being consciously aware in our lives. We have turned on the autopilot and are merely drifting through life. Our brains and body have become so familiar with our routine that we put little thought or attention into our daily lives. Our minds are usually busy making lists, recalling events of the day, or thinking ahead, that we’ve stopped being consciously aware. We tend to go through the emotions that we know so well and miss out on all the nuances of the experience in the process.
Having an increasing awareness of gratitude can have a ripple effect throughout your relationships. There is evidence that when we share our gratitude, whether, in kindness, words, or gifts, we nurture our relationships, helping them to grow stronger and closer. Knowing this, it makes perfect sense that we need to explore how we can convey our appreciation to those that matter the most to us.
While there is nothing wrong with expressing your gratitude by saying, “thanks a lot,” or “nice work,” these expressions of gratitude are often taken for granted and seldom convey the message as powerfully as we want. One way you can verbally to express your appreciation in a manner that will foster connection in your relationships is by including three things in your expression: (1) observation, (2) feeling, and (3) need.
In sharing your observation, you just state what you observe, like holding the door open, washing the dishes, or taking out the trash. These everyday actions do make a difference, but they often go unacknowledged. Sometimes just letting someone know that you noticed can make a world of difference to that person. Next, you need to let that person know that what they did have a positive impact on you.
The final aspect of communicating gratitude is often times the trickiest. It can be difficult to acknowledge that we need others, but we do. It is important to remember that we don’t exist in little bubbles and that we are consistently affected by those around us. Letting someone know that they were there when you needed them is an open doorway to establishing a connection with others. When it comes to thinking about your own relationships and opportunities for gratitude, don’t limit your expressions of gratitude to the things that people give you or do for you. Sometimes it is just as valuable to share your appreciation for who they are as a person. Let the people in your life know that you not only appreciate what they do for you by who they are as well. Take the time to comment on someone’s generosity, thoughtfulness, compassion, or just being who they are, and see how much happier you become in your relationships.
Chapter 4 – The Power of Positive
Emotions and Gratitude
Wanting to be happy isn’t an unrealistic desire. However, we seem to be misinformed about what happiness is. At times, we may think that we can find happiness in a new computer, a new shirt, or a new car. Other times, we may believe that indulging our impulses will make us happy. While these things in and of themselves aren’t bad, you need to consider if any of these things have brought you true, lasting happiness.
A study of twins has demonstrated that approximately 50 percent of happiness levels are based on genetics. This means that there is some predisposition to happiness, but that also means that half of
our happiness isn’t wired into our DNA. Another study determined that 10 percent of our happiness is determined by our life circumstances like wealth, relationship status, health, etc. This means that if 50 percent of our happiness can be attributed to genetic makeup and 10 percent to circumstances, that leaves 40 percent of our happiness up to us and our behavior.
This 40 percent means that we have a significant say in how happy we are in our lives. It’s not all up to chance, or someone else’s whims or intentions. We have a choice. So what does this have to do with gratitude? Well, it turns out that research has shown that grateful people are indeed happier people. Gratitude can reduce the frequency and duration of depressive episodes, which makes a lot of sense because it is hard to feel bitterness, anger, envy, hostility, and resentment when you are feeling grateful. By its nature gratitude has the capability to block more negative and unpleasant emotions. When it comes to gratitude, it is essential for you to realize that the feelings you experience are valuable and that they all serve a purpose.
When you feel afraid, you may become anxious. This emotion puts your body in a state of alertness, so you’re ready for anything and can grow in tune with our surroundings. Feeling anxious when you are walking down a poorly lit street at night, is an appropriate emotion and can help keep you safe. That same feeling of anxiety prior to speaking publicly can prompt you to prepare for the event, and help you to have an excellent presentation ready to go.
Emotions that are typically referred to as negative are merely more unpleasant to experience. Bitterness, sadness, guilt, regret, shame, envy, resentment, and anxiety are not necessarily bad, but they can be uncomfortable to experience, especially if they feel that you often have. Your mind is somewhat programmed to focus on these emotions and give them more of your attention. This is because these are essential emotions in that they give you valuable information about yourself and how you are responding to your environment. Without these emotions, you wouldn’t know if there was danger lurking around the corner, or if you are viewing something that is opposed to your moral and ethical views. These particular emotions can prompt you into taking action. The downside to these specific emotions is that you can quickly get stuck there, and you can begin to find yourself living in uncomfortable places.
Gratitude and other positive emotions don’t discount the negative experience but can help you keep things in perspective and keep you from getting stuck in those negative emotions. Practicing gratitude is one way to transform your experiences toward more positive emotions and improving your relationships. If you work with appreciation, you will begin to shift your experience toward the positive.
Benefits of Gratitude
Gratitude has also been proven to increase our capacity for experiencing other positive emotions. Often, gratitude is described with the same feelings connected to it, like love, compassion, humility, comfort, passion, and confidence. Cultivating gratitude can be a direct way to enhance these other emotions in your life.
Another benefit of gratitude that has been supported by several studies is that grateful people are more resilient and resistant to stress. When you can find the ability to be thankful for the things you have in your life, you find yourself able to move through challenges and difficulties in your lifetime and time again. Gratitude helps us see our strength, open our hearts, and experience the fullness in our lives.
The good news is, you don’t have to go through a crisis in order to find gratitude. Gratitude is an opportunity that is there waiting for you every day.
Gratitude can be learned. With practice, gratitude can be a choice, an intentional way of viewing the world. This is not to say that you should discount or make light of difficulties or painful experiences in your life, but you should choose not to let yourself become overwhelmed in these times, and find a way to see beyond them. You can look with gratitude at what you learn about others and yourself when you’re moving through hardships.Other Details
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