For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I simply love this quote because it reminds me to live a life grounded in gratitude. When each of us is pursuing happiness, we tend to take what we already have for granted. Surely, we never feel 100-percent, but we often focus on the 10 percent that we do not have, instead of the 90 percent that we already have.
Gratitude is a feeling of being thankful for what we receive, whether tangible or intangible. Like most people, I did not realize that my ordinary life is worthy of my full appreciation and thankfulness until last month when I had to go through some exams and lab tests for a health issue. Fortunately, everything turned out to be fine. Still, the whole process, especially the anxiety while waiting for each test result, put me on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I even thought about the worst scenario. Now, I am simply grateful for the fact that I am alive.
With gratitude, we recognize the goodness in our lives, which is an important source of happiness. Studies have supported that experiencing gratitude can positively impact our emotional state. When people count their blessings, such as writing about the things in their life that they are grateful about, they experience greater happiness.
For example, in an experiment, participants were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions. One group wrote about things they were grateful for occurred during a week. The second group wrote about their daily irritations, and the third wrote about an event that affected them, whether positive or negative. After ten weeks, the gratitude-listing group were more optimistic and felt more satisfied with their lives.
To me, the most important value of gratitude is the appreciation of the current moment. There is a famous saying–“People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, and all life for happiness.” We are used to waiting for a special happy moment to come. We spend too much time waiting, which makes the desired happiness seem rare and momentary. How about the rest of the days?
Gratitude helps us feel more positive emotions, cope with adversity, and build strong relationships. Small things like thank-you note, a short journal about the blessing or gifts received, or even just to thank someone mentally, would be a great way to cultivate gratitude.