From our grade school years, for sure nobody would ever forget this rhyme: “Thank You God for the world so sweet, Thank You God for the food we eat, Thank You God for the birds that sing, Thank You God for everything!” On hindsight, one feels what a simple way it was to express gratitude towards the bigger and smaller joys of life.
But later, back in my seminary days, we were taught to be appreciative or be grateful not only for the things we have, but also for the things that challenge us – our struggles and “have-nots.”
In other words, as borne out of our seminary formation and studies, being grateful for the “negative things” means that we can derive “meaning, lessons, opportunities, and growth” even from our challenges and struggles.
We reckoned (or “argued”) then that even an ounce of gratitude for the little that we have is already a pound of happiness – because nobody, nobody at all, is ever deprived totally of anything. Because nobody, nobody among all of us who’ve been lovingly created by God, is totally deprived. And because we’re not nothing at all. By virtue of our “essence” as human being, we have every reason to be grateful, to be thankful, to be happy. What rather makes people unhappy is their craving for more, and not being appreciative of what they already have.
Such a profound learning then, I’d like to recall it now.
Gratitude, hence, is such a powerful emotion, a magical experience.
Gratitude, as generally understood, is the positive feeling of being thankful for someone (another person, or God, or for the non-theistic, the universe) or something. It is about embracing life as it is and being thankful for our haves rather than focusing on our have-nots.
According to Dr. Chandni Tugnait, a life and business coach and founder of Gateway of Healing, expressing gratitude has a positive effect and provides the following benefits, among others: 1) Gratitude makes you feel more content; 2) Being grateful may improve your physical health; 3) Gratitude has long-term positive effects on our mental health; 4) It gives us increased empathy towards others; and 5) It provides greater levels of overall happiness, joy, optimism, and enthusiasm.
For me, among the objects of or reasons for being grateful, I find gratefulness to God as the most profound or highest form.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Gratitude places us in correct relationship with God who revealed himself to us. If pagans would barter with their gods, we Christians first know God as the creator – which makes all of creation a gift, a sign of God’s love.
In sum, therefore, the magic of gratitude stands out as a veritable wellspring of blessings and graces. By gratefully reciprocating the goodness of God or of another person, we amplify the goodwill or blessing that we receive. It has oft been said, “Love diffuses itself” – that is, it is the very nature of love to be diffused or shared. This can be said too of gratitude. As we bestow our gratefulness – to another person or to God – it does not only please the one we are grateful for. Our gesture of gratefulness benefits ourselves, or somehow comes back to us, effecting a profound happiness on our part.
Wisely put, the more we are grateful, the more we will find things (or reasons) to be grateful for. That’s the magic of gratitude. Thank you, dear readers!