The Spiritual Practice of Gratitude by Dr. Lisa Merritt

THE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE OF GRATITUDE

THE SPIRITUAL PRACTICE OF GRATITUDE

How do we practice gratitude? Can we change our perspective and bring peace to our life just by our thought process? Can we have thankfulness no matter what is going on?  How can we stay resilient through rough times and feel thankful while we are going through a crisis?

Our anxiety level during holidays, busy events, weddings, family, or large gatherings, can bring tremendous stress to our bodies and our minds. As we step back and reflect, we can establish our priorities. When we feel anxious, it is important to take a break, have a solitude moment and walk to release the pressure. How we respond during our most difficult situations takes practice.

Photo by: Daria Shevtsova

Learning to control ungrateful impulsiveness is a process that can be taught.

The practice of thankfulness or gratitude reflects our blessings. Though our uneasy emotions are important, and we feel a mood that is tense, let’s think before we talk and change our thought process. Let us try to express the love and gratitude that we have for each other even if we do not always agree. Of course, this is easier said than done when an uncomfortable circumstance occurs.

The word, gratitude, is a Latin term, which means, pleasing, welcome, and agreeable. Gratus means grace, actions, positive moods, and ideas. The word, “gwere” is a Proto Indo-European derivative, and it means praise, celebrate and in contact with the divine. It is a state of bliss! Gratitude is a state on mind to cherish and appreciate.

Photo by: Virtual DeniseWhen we practice (which means we don’t always get it right) gratitude, our brains function better. Our minds are clearer. A neurotransmitter called Dopamine, allows us to feel worthy. The neurotransmitter called Serotonin, helps us fight depression and we feel peace. And the neurotransmitter, Oxytocin, provides the feeling of well-being. Feeling thankful stimulates these neurotransmitters!

When we make wholesome choices to not focus on the negative, we are actually healthier. The practice of gratitude is reflected in our diet, our movement (exercise) and lifestyle. The choice to change our viewpoint as gratitude can release natural endorphins which help reduce pain. A positive attitude allows the body’s white blood cells activate and make more immune building factors to heal us.

Studies show that heart patients recover faster when surrounded by a peaceful environment. The heart needs to be “open” to love and appreciation. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) patients heal in their bodies and minds faster from the practice of gratitude. It is impossible to be grateful and depressed at the same time.

If appreciation and gratitude help us so much, how can we practice it? What is the antidote? Gratitude is a form of communication. It cannot be a silent or unnoticed way to practice this. It is not a gloat or attention getter. Gratitude is from the heart and is given with authenticity. It is a form of expressing creativity. It can be practiced with words and actions. When using words, it is to choose thoughts that are verbalized by saying it, writing it, or even singing it! It is an action by giving a gift, doing an activity or chore, or helping and volunteering your time.

Photo by: sasint

The practice of gratitude is a spiritual experience.

During the best of times, it is easy to say “Thank-You” and feel blessed with abundant gifts and fortune. But when times are rough, it is hard to see the blessings. There are periods in all our lives that exercising gratitude is a challenge. To find the positive during emptiness, is a practice of resiliency and a discipline of mindfulness. We choose to view our state of mind and we decide to see things in a different way.

When we let go of self-pity, we also let go of envy and aggression. The trauma we undertake may seem unfair, but our response is a practice of maturity using wisdom. Gratitude is the antidote for suffering.

When we practice (which means we don’t always get it right) gratitude, our brains function better. Our minds are clearer. A neurotransmitter called Dopamine, allows us to feel worthy. The neurotransmitter called Serotonin, helps us fight depression and we feel peace. And the neurotransmitter, Oxytocin, provides the feeling of well-being. Feeling thankful stimulates these neurotransmitters!

When we make wholesome choices to not focus on the negative, we become healthier.

The practice of gratitude is reflected in our diet, our movement (exercise) and lifestyle. The choice to change our viewpoint feeling gratitude can release natural endorphins which help reduce pain. A positive attitude allows the body’s white blood cells activate and more immune building factors begin to heal us.

Studies show that heart patients recover faster when surrounded by a peaceful environment. The heart needs to be “open” to love and appreciation. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) patients heal in their bodies and minds faster from the practice of gratitude.

It is impossible to be grateful and depressed at the same time.

If appreciation and gratitude help us so much, how can we practice it? What is the antidote? Gratitude is a form of communication. It cannot be a silent or unnoticed way to practice this. It is not a gloat or attention getter. Gratitude is from the heart and is given with authenticity. It is a form of expressing creativity. It can be practiced with words and actions. When using words, it is to choose thoughts that are verbalized by saying it, writing it, or even singing it! It is an action by giving a gift, doing an activity or chore, or helping and volunteering your time.

Giving to others makes us genuinely feel good inside. Being thankful moves you away from thinking about only yourself. Giving is an unselfish action. Our positivity lifts our own spirits as we lift others. It naturally builds our self-esteem because we know we are helping others. It is a fruit of the spirit because it teaches us to be patience and kindness.

Gratitude lets us take a situation, leads us to focus on the big picture, and not on the little picture.

Today, start with five things, whether big or small, that you personally are thankful for. Open your hands, fill it with these five things, see them in your mind, and now, hold them to your heart. Allow yourself to take a rainy day, a stressful day, or even a sad day, and change your perspective about it. Bring clarity, peace, and wisdom from it and share it to others. The choice to feel gratitude will move you to a healthier and more vibrant life. It will draw you to other like-minded people who will gravitate to you because your spirits are positive, encouraging and give hope to not only yourself, but to others.

John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

 

Photo by: JFKLibrary
Scroll to Top
0 Shares
Share
Share
Tweet
Pin