The Real Benefits of Gratitude
It’s one of the first things we learn as children. Along with the word “please,” it’s also one of the first things we teach our own kids.
We say it automatically to everyone from the grocery checker, to the waitress, to the bank teller. We often whisper it before our meals, before we go to sleep and after we have a near-miss automobile accident.
It is the phrase “thank you.” But did you know that regularly expressing gratitude – real, honest thankfulness – can have life-changing benefits? An increasing amount of research shows that an attitude of gratitude can help us physically, psychologically and socially.
First, let’s take a look at what we mean by gratitude. The word “gratitude” comes from the Latin word “gratia,” which, depending on the context in which it is used, means grace, graciousness or gratefulness. The Oxford Dictionary defines gratitude as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
Gratitude can also be defined as an appreciation for something you receive, whether that something is tangible or intangible. A grateful person acknowledges the goodness in life as coming from outside himself or herself. As a result, a grateful attitude helps us to connect with others – whether that other person is a friend, a family member, a stranger or a higher power.