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      Volume 10 |Issue 11 | March 18, 2011 |


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Expressing Gratitude


When we say “Thank you” to someone for a favour, we not only make them happy but we also benefit from the expression of gratitude. When we learned to utter our first words our mothers used to teach us to say “Thank you” for even the smallest deed done for us. This teaching was in fact a little step towards a much greater journey. Experts are coming up with the importance of expressing our gratitude, of being thankful for all our blessings throughout our life. Experts say,

“Feeling thankful is one key to happiness, so count your blessings for the boost.”

Gratitude is a sentiment that we could do well to cultivate. Feeling thankful and expressing that thanks makes us happier and heartier. We can start by writing thank-you notes to someone who had helped us in the past. The gratitude letters can start with the expression of thanks for the home, family and health. Quite often these are taken for granted. The biggest bonuses come from expressing gratitude habitually. Skeptical people gradually settle in and see the things that are happening gracefully and how these very occurrences could have gone missing. “Once you get started, you find more and more things to be grateful for," says Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher at the University of California at Davis.

Out there may be people who have helped you but you never thanked them properly. Taking a chance to write that gratitude letter will be like finding a new light in your life. For one whole month read out the gratitude letters to the person addressed to and you will get an emotional boost. Happiness levels tend to go up and boredom and other negative feelings go down. In fact the gratitude visit is more effective than any other exercise in positive psychology.

The gratitude letter can be like a happiness list. Gratitude need not be directed to a certain person only. One can start by giving a few minutes each day to jot down things that make us thankful starting from generosity of friends to food on the table and the right to vote. After a few weeks one tends to feel better about him or herself and feels more energetic. Studies show list keepers sleep better, exercise more and feel general contentment that may counteract stress that may attribute to overall health.

At times writing the gratitude letter may seem silly. If so, one can at first fake it. Just keeping up with the habit of thanking ultimately shows way into the reality of being thankful for what we have. The sight of a beautiful scenery, kind words from the neighbour, a stranger's help in taking out your car out of the parking lot; all these are happenings that we can be grateful for. Thankfulness lets you see that you are someone who is loved and cared for. Researcher Emmons points out,

“Your self-esteem is bolstered when you say, 'Hey, people have done things for me.'"

As we go through our everyday life there are so many things happening around us and to us. With the eyes of an optimist we can hold a positive attitude to life and adjust to our gratitude list. We can practice expressing gratitude to God for the natural bounties we are blessed with. The rain, sun and the wind ; they do not come with a long bill. Must we not thank the Almighty for these natural bounties?

And even the services we pay for are also essential ones and we must be grateful for having them. Life comes with joy and sorrow. We thank God for all his bounties and we thank him for the patience and strength He bestows in us when life does not run smoothly. We thank Him for the beautiful sight of a starlit sky. We express our gratitude to the bus driver for a safe ride. The good feeling the bus driver derives will be with him and he may in turn smile and thank his passengers. If you have forgotten to thank a friend for his kindness you can call him up and still say the wonderful words. It is better to be late than never. Thinking of all the benefits of the gratitude act we can think twice about the persons to be thanked at the end of the day. All good things do not repeat. Maybe the kind acts of your friends, relatives and colleagues may not be there tomorrow. And so start saying the “Thank you” right today and start feeling as if you have done a worldly job! Your confidence and contentment will go up as you add to the list of thanks with all the good feelings of having done justice to other good deeds.

Saying thank you is like giving one a bonus gift. You don't have to say it but you light hundred lights when you do. As Joanna Fuchs says in her poem:

You Didn't Have To
Thank you for what you did;
You didn't have to do it.
I'm glad someone like you
Could help me to get through it.

I'll always think of you
With a glad and grateful heart;
You are very special;
I knew it from the start!


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