Gratitude

According to Bhagavad-Gita, people with  divine qualities show compassion, kindness, humility, sincerity, activity, helping nature, gratitude and reach God by cutting their rebirth cycle. Hence we should follow the teachings of Bhagvad-Gita and develop the divine qualities such as gratitude.

I will discuss one of the divine qualities  gratitude in this blog. Gratitude in general means expressing thanks for what we have received. But gratitude really goes beyond  thanksgiving, and even beyond acknowledgement and appreciation. Acknowledgment is nothing but accepting help and recognizing the help received. Appreciation is not only accepting, but conveying thanks with a good heart. Appreciating good deeds and helping nature of others encourages them to help many more people and  in many occasions. For example,  giving a gift to a friend on happy occasions such as  birthdays  conveys our acknowledgement of friendship. But helping  a man in distress or in need gets you appreciation from  that person. Gratitude is beyond acknowledgement and appreciation; it is a feeling which comes from the bottom of the heart.

Appreciating positive qualities  has a positive impact on our  emotions and hence our lives. The feeling of gratitude is like living in a state of grace. Grace is  the feeling of being loved unconditionally by God. When we practice  gratitude, we are practicing the feeling of love from God. Generally our mind is judgmental and critical, and tries to  find faults in any action or situation. The mind is only  grateful when it perceives a direct benefit to self. But when we live in the heart, we can feel gratitude because the nature of the heart is to identify the good qualities of others. It is only in the heart where we  feel unconditional love and gratitude. Spirituality has always stressed on gratitude and now the scientific field of  psychology has started focusing on gratitude. Psychology started investigating gratitude just around year 2000. Psychology has traditionally  focused more on understanding distress rather than  positive emotions and could explain the late start in understanding gratitude. However, with the advent of the positive psychology movement, gratitude has become a mainstream focus of psychological research.

Gratitude is not the same as indebtedness. We can distinguish them. Both emotions occur  after receiving help. Indebtedness is an obligation and you  make some  compensation for the help received. Both  emotions lead to difference in actions though. Indebtedness can sometimes make  the recipient of  help to avoid the person who  helped him, whereas gratitude  motivates the recipient to seek out their benefactor and  improve their relationship with him. For example, taking care of   ailing parents is indebtedness and not gratitude. Providing service to seniors   who are not even related is showing gratitude to  society. This kind of selfless service gives more happiness to the service provider.

Gratitude is viewed as a prized human quality in  Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu traditions. In the great Hindu text Ramayana, the great sage Valmiki asked his guru Devarishi Narada to share 16 good qualities of life. One of the qualities mentioned was gratitude and shows the importance of gratitude in human life. Spirituality is capable of enhancing a person’s ability to be grateful and therefore, religious people  are more likely to have a greater sense of gratitude in all areas of life.

The Benefits of Gratitude:

Practicing gratitude is one of the fastest ways to achieve a happy,  healthy, long and prosperous life. People who take the time to notice and appreciate the good things that have come their way through grace, luck, or  goodness of others are happier and more peaceful. They generally do better on critical thinking tests and have better problem solving skills. They practice healthier habits and tend to have better relationships. They are more optimistic in nature and live longer. The law of universe is that we receive more good things in life by  showing gratitude, and hence Gratitude is a very  powerful emotion.

Suggestions to Cultivate Gratitude

  1. Keep a gratitude note book. Every day or so, keep track of  the good things that happened to you that day. You do not need a special format or  maintain any special schedule to write.
  2. Make a phone call expressing your gratitude to people who have helped you.
  3. Write a letter of appreciation. Express your gratitude to people who have helped you, particularly to those that have helped you without expecting any special reward.
  4. Make a gratitude visit. You can express your gratitude in person better  than in a letter or phone call. Gratitude is such a powerful emotion for both the giver and receiver of help, you may find that writing a  letter first helps you get your thoughts in order and deliver your message more effectively.
  5. Make a gratitude list. Set a goal of listing 100 things that you have to be grateful for, and then keep adding to that list until you reach the number. Some days it is hard to get started, but persistence pays as the longer list pushes us to examine our blessings more deeply.
  6. Inculcating the habit of gratitude in our own family: We have to show our gratitude to our parents, spouse, and children within the family for routine help and also try to inculcate the same in our children.

Attitude of Gratitude:

Whatever method you choose, there are quick and easy ways to develop more gratitude. How fortunate for us that this powerhouse of happiness and success is so easy to get. So take the time to develop an attitude of gratitude and you can enjoy a happier life now.

- Varadacharylu Peddinti

4 Responses to “Gratitude”

  1. Sanjai Says:

    Dear Uncle, Thanks for the wonderful article on Gratitude. You have clearly explained what Gratitude is and what it is not. Being in the state of gratefulness is indeed wonderful. One has to be in this state to understand the meaning. What belongs to me? Nothing. The air we breath is abundantly available. In the absence of this air, my body cannot survive. Yet I have not taken a moment to think about this. I have taken many things in my life for granted. I can think either I deserve it and not pay attention or I can think about and be thankful for what I have and what I have received. I choose to be in “gratefulness” state and experience the fullness. Thank you divine.
    -Sanjai

  2. sriram Says:

    Dear Uncle,
    Thank you for sharing this superb article. You have beautifully said about Gratitude and Indebtedness. I loved this line very much.
    “Grace is the feeling of being loved unconditionally by God.”
    Being grateful is truly a great experience of the unconditional love of God.
    Thank you,
    Sriram

  3. Venu Says:

    Dear Mavayya Garu,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful article. There are several items which were explained clearly & nicely. One thing which could be a clarification to every one was, the differences between common words – gratitude, thanks giving, indebtedness, appreciation & acknowledgment. This article clearly explains what each of these words are how different they are from Gratitude.

    Regards,
    -Venu

  4. Anuradha Says:

    Dear Dad,
    Thank you for a good article. Looking positive qualities in others and appreciating them wholeheartedly will bring happiness into our life. Suggestions to cultivate Gratitude are simple and easy to follow.

    -Anuradha

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