Founder of Damascus Way Recovery, Tim assists individuals with developing a deep spiritual sense of meaning & purpose to enrich and empower.
Gratitude is many things to many people. It is wonder; it is appreciation; it is looking at the bright side of a setback; it is fathoming abundance; it is thanking someone in your life; it is thanking God; it is “counting blessings.” It is savoring; it is not taking things for granted; it is coping; it is present-oriented. Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, avarice, hostility, worry, and irritation.
~ Sonja Lyubomirsky ~
Our greatest desire in life is to achieve a sense of meaning and purpose. A sense of fulfillment where we are happy. One of the core principles of authentic happiness is through our gratitude. According to Sonja Lyumbomirsky, our ability to experience happiness is rooted in the way we express gratitude. This is based on extensive research that has drawn attention to its multiple benefits.
On their Healthbeat website, Harvard Health shares this insight on how giving thanks can make you happier:
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can't feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.
It is more than a mere thank you for a kind thought, gesture, or even a gift. Showing gratitude is also more than appreciating what we have. Expressing gratitude means we appreciate who we are as a human being without judgment, criticism, or expectations.
Yet, this is not something that is easily attained. An individual needs to shift from their egocentric bias perception to a more mindful sense of awareness. Dr. David Ludden, Ph.D shares his thoughts on why expressing gratitude can be so hard to do. He observes, from a set of studies done by University of Chicago psychologists Amit Kumar and Nicholas Epley published in the journal Psychological Science, how our egocentric bias allow us to believe that our expression of gratitude is obvious to others. Secondly, he observes how our egocentric bias may contribute to our own uneasiness in expressing certain emotions.
Expressing Gratitude in Times of Adversity
Probably the most challenging aspect of expressing gratitude is during difficult times. We all face adversity. Some experience significant trauma. Yet, our inability to express gratitude may be due to our inherent fears, worries, lack of confidence in our ability to cope, and inability to confess our need for help and support.The issue is not with our lack of appreciation. It appears to be our lack of joy in life. What I mean by this is that most attribute gratitude to overall happiness. For me, gratitude is rooted in our sense of joy.
Happiness is a present-moment emotion we experience. Even genuine happiness. Joy is more enduring. It sustains us through seasons when we are doing well and through those storms we are called to navigate. Furthermore, our sense of joy is rooted in who we are and our defined sense of meaning and purpose. Gratitude essential is a guiding principle to help us navigate and weather the adversities we face in life.
Gratitude Journaling and Writing Challenge Tips
For this first weekly challenge, take a moment to meditate and reflect on what you are grateful for. Focus on your breathing and allow yourself some time to approach this writing experience.
Set aside at least 15-20 minutes each day and follow these tips. When you are comfortable - begin writing. The goal of this challenge is to write a good experience, interaction with someone, or a particular event. Share the good thoughts and emotions surrounding this experience.
Greater Good Science Center provides the following 9 tips for writing, and maintaining, a gratitude Journal. This writing challenge focuses on the 7 specific tips for this writing challenge.
- Be as specific as possible - To foster gratitude, you want to focus on the specific details related to what you are grateful for.
- Go for depth over breadth - Dive deep into the details about the particular person or event for which you are grateful for. Do not write in a superficial way. This requires some exploration rather than listing things
- Personalization - Focus more on the individuals to whom you are showing gratitude than what they did for you. This will carry more weight and make a greater impact
- Subtract not Add - How will your life look differently without this certain individual, or certain individuals. What if that particular event had not happened? Don't just spend your time tallying up all the positive things and people. Also, focus on the negative things you've either escaped, avoided, prevented, or turned around for the good. It is about being humble and not taking these circumstances for granted
- Good gifts - Change our perception and focus on how those good things we have experienced in life as "gifts" allows us to remain humble and guards us against taking for granted what we've experienced and the relationships we've had. It is about savoring those things we've experienced and received.
- Savor surprises - What were some of the unexpected things that have happened? Who surprised you? Sharing these helps elicit stronger and deeper levels of gratitude
- Revise if you repeat - Zero in on different aspects when you find yourself writing about the same situations, people, and things.
The Writing Prompt
Are you ready? Here is the writing challenge for this week:
I am grateful for.....
Remember to follow the tips. Practice mindfulness and meditation to help clear the landscape of your mind. Do not merely just write about what you are grateful for, share the thoughts, emotions, and how your body responds.
When you have completed this challenge - comment and share your thoughts on this experience.
Timothy R Berman (author) from Marysville, Washington on September 29, 2020:
JC Scull -
Thank you. While I have my own personal beliefs. These articles are more general in their approach and hopefully they help fellow writers to develop a more mindful and creative way to engage in the passion of writing. Thank you for your comment and thoughts.
JC Scull from Gainesville, Florida on September 26, 2020:
As an Atheist I always think about a Thanksgiving dinner sans a god or deity. Perhaps part of the answer lies in a more introspective approach to being thankful, which writing could provide. Also, directly thanking people could be a positive approach, not just during Thanksgiving but on a regular basis. Good article.