“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Cicero
We all understand the word gratitude. Our mothers taught us to say “please” and “thank you” at the appropriate times. We learned to write letters of thanks to distant relatives who spent birthday cards. These were important lessons growing up. However, was this really teaching us about gratitude at a deeper level? Does this form of gratitude help to foster happiness?
Gratitude is defined as “a feeling of thankfulness and appreciation, as for gifts or favours” and “a sense of obligation” by The Free Dictionary, and a “state of being grateful” by Merriam-Webster. Do any of these definitions give us even a glimmer of what gratitude means? Or the strength and depth of this intensely potent word?
Words to help remember and reframe the gratitude in us all:
“Saying thank you is more than good manners. It is good spirituality.” Alfred Painter
“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.” Doris Day
“To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” Johannes A Gaertner
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. And it turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” Melodie Beattie
“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” William James
What are you thankful for? Some people believe that when they get what they want, that a state of gratitude will then follow. The problem with this thinking is that if we do not get what we want, our natural state of gratitude (and by association, happiness) is being held hostage.
In reality, it is when a person wants and appreciates what they already have that true and natural gratitude becomes a part of their present and every day lives.
“Gratefulness is the key to a happy life that we hold in our hands, because if we are not grateful, then no matter how much we have we will not be happy — because we will always want to have something else or something more.” Brother David Steindl-Rast
Across all of humanity, some of the greatest factors to a life of happiness and gratitude are a meaningful and authentic connection to others and the ability to contribute.
Although Christmas is behind us, the movie It´s a Wonderful Life is one of the most beautiful demonstrations of gratitude reframed.
Maybe it is time to find a cause that ignites not only the gratitude in your soul but also the passion in your actions.
A couple of places to look in order spark ideas as ways to connect and contribute:
Idealist.org – “an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives”.
Wikipedia Canadian Non-profit Organization Directory – a list of all Canadian non-profit organizations
Global Alignment recommends doing your own research before donating time or money to any charity or cause. However, these are great resource for learning and understanding about the many types of organizations available that need your help.
The Global Alignment Team
Global Alignment Coaching