The Power Of Gratitude
Science accepts the unique power of gratitude for good. A sense of gratitude to the Creator is central to Western religion. Those who feel more grateful for the benefits they experience clearly enjoy a better quality of life.
But, is a sense of gratitude to life justified? With starving children, painful diseases, famines and earthquakes, how can anyone feel thankful for being thrust into this unforgiving world? For many pessimists, gratitude is a mystifying concept. Even if they are individually and uniquely blessed, can the misery of legions of unfortunates be ignored? For those despairing skeptics, gratitude to life sounds absurd.
But, those unhappy few are mistaken. They don't need to struggle to feel grateful to life. They will naturally feel grateful and enjoy the celebrated feeling of abundance, when they abandon a few misconceptions. True, it is hard to break out of old and negative ways of thinking, But, it can be done. An escape from despair begins with an insight into why gratitude is reasonable. Then they need to work on losing their feelings of despair. Freed from emotional turmoil, mindfulness living will reveal the wonder of life, despite all its misery. Then the reason for gratitude will become obvious and its power will change their lives.
- Gratitude is an emotion, which is triggered after a positive assessment of benefits.
- Evolution developed gratitude as part of a system of rewards for the well-being of herds.
- Gratitude is an emotion with the power to modify attitudes and behaviors.
- Gratitude works as an accurate measure of one's sense of well-being.
- Gratitude makes a person feel more generous.
- People experience different levels of gratitude.
- An intuitive decision making process triggers gratitude.
- Negative emotions need to be stilled to experience gratitude.
- Certain exercises can increase one's sense of gratitude.
- Pessimism is not justified in life.
- Religions express gratitude to the Maker.
- The skeptic can feel gratitude to life.
Power Of Gratitude –What Is Gratitude?
is essentially an emotion,
which improves the behavior of people. Cynics allege that gratitude
changes behavior in expectation of future favors. That is not true.
The prospect of future benefits triggers only fearful flattery.
Gratefulness is not crafty and does not fawn.
is a positive emotion, filled with goodwill. It acknowledges
receiving something valuable, which a person cannot justly claim to
deserve. If something is expected in return, the recipient only feels
indebted, leading more to an avoidance of the giver. Gratitude
arises, when the recipient feels that nothing is expected back. It
motivates the recipient to have positive and helpful feelings towards
Power Of Gratitude –Social Instincts
evolved as a social instinct. Animals, which live together in herds,
survive better than loners. Evolution developed specific patterns of
social rewards and punishments for the survival of herds. At the
highest level, the individual is rewarded with maximal respect and
admiration for those heroic actions which benefit the whole herd. For
individual interactions, there are persisting and strict codes, which
deliver reciprocal rewards.
action, which benefits the recipient but is costly to the performer,
fills the recipient with goodwill, motivating a strong desire to
return the favor. Harmful actions invite retribution, discouraging
unsocial behavior. Invariably there is a time lag between giving and
receiving. The related emotions persist within the neural network for
a reasonable period and subside only when favors, or punishments of
equal value are delivered to the giver. The emotions of gratitude and
revenge implement those social rules, which ultimately resulted in
the domination of all life by herds.
Power Of Gratitude –How Emotions Work
neural processes, which control attitudes and behaviors. An emotion
can fill you with terror and even freeze your ability to take a
single step. Without that emotion in control, walking is deceptively
easy. But fear will freeze you into immobility, if you suddenly need
to step on a plank a hundred feet above ground. That fear is not your
choice. You may not even be aware that it has taken control. You will
only know the reason why you are afraid. Fear can also be induced by
electrical excitation of certain parts of the temporal
and positive emotions originate as distinctive patterns of nerve
impulses, which also trigger neurochemical events. They have the
capacity to micromanage the fluidity of your muscle movements, your
thoughts, your facial expressions and the choice and tone of your
words. When a positive emotion is experienced, the system releases
the neuro-modulator dopamine. Dopamine provides clarity to immediate
objectives and makes a person feel more energetic and elated. A
person feels more aware and interested in the tasks on hand.
Gratitude is a positive emotion, which grants a person a powerful
sense of well-being.
Power Of Gratitude –Gratitude Testifies Your Performance
flows from a feeling that life is good. Science discovered that, when
you experience the emotion, you will have a sense of well-being. Your
health will be better and you will have a more cheerful attitude to
life. People, who experience gratitude, sleep better and have more
positive thoughts. They face problems well and are more in control of
their lives. They cope better with transitions in life. Experiencing
gratitude is a true indication of coping well with life.
Power Of Gratitude –Gratitude Makes You Generous
works positively. In fMRI studies, the ventromedial prefrontal
regions are activated for rewards such as food, money, or pleasant
music. Tricomi of Caltech tested subjects, selectively rewarding
groups for winning simple games. Subjects having high scores felt
comparatively wealthy. Feeling that they had received more than their
fair share made them feel gratitude. Such subjects showed activation
of the ventromedial prefrontal regions indicating pleasure, even when
another participant with a low score received a reward. Gratitude
makes one feel generous towards weaker members of the group. A
feeling that one has better than a fair share triggers gratitude,
making a person more generous.
Power Of Gratitude –Varying Levels Of Gratitude
sense of fairness is subjective. Gratitude can be felt towards many
aspects of life. It can be felt about the people who surround you,
the things you own, your experience of the present moment, the wonder
of life, in comparisons with others and about your relationship to
the cosmos. When enjoying identical benefits, people differ in their
assessment of value, cost, and benevolent intentions of the giver.
They feel differing levels of gratitude after being helped. Some may
only feel dissatisfaction and resentment. The more fortunate ones
enjoy the feeling of gratitude more frequently and in more areas.
Science has discovered that people who feel gratitude more often are
better adjusted and happier. A sense of well-being indicates the true
power of gratitude to modify attitudes.
Power Of Gratitude –The Somatic Marker
cannot be willed into existence. Gratitude to life can only come from
a positive existential position. Gratitude ultimately results from an
informed assessment by a person's mind that, in spite of myriad
problems, its essential wonder makes life worth living. Such an
assessment follows an evaluation of the positives and negatives in
one's life. Damasio proposed an evaluation of the “somatic markers”
(a store of all reward and punishment-associated experiences) for
decision making by the mind.
website suggests an intuitive
decision making process,
where the feedback/feed forward circuits in the limbic system
evaluate all decision parameters, including emotions, to instantly
deliver a final decision. In the end, each individual weighs despair
and boredom against wonder and love to measure the quality of his own
life. To the despairing, life is a stupid mistake. To the child, it
is a world of joy. By stilling negative emotions a person can tilt
the balance and enjoy the power of gratitude.
Power Of Gratitude –Essential Steps For Gratitude
the judgment of the mind, good feelings have to be stronger than the
negative emotions to feel gratitude. No living person is free from
problems in life. A few are troubled by more than their share and a
few others burdened by a negative attitude, which casts a fearsome
visage on existence itself. At the same time, there are happy and
cheerful people living in abject and degrading conditions. It is not
the world, which is to blame for misery, but the emotional responses
of humans to their troubles.
control tips in
this website offer practical routines, which can quiet negative
emotions. When you learn to control your negative emotions, you
suddenly realize that nothing in the world can trouble you. You have
a better ability to face problems in life, to control your
environment and to accept the inevitable. The first step to enjoying
a feeling of gratitude and abundance is to know how to control your
Power Of Gratitude –Cultivating Gratitude
and Emmons noted that gratitude encouraged a positive cycle of
reciprocal kindness among people since one act of gratitude
encourages another. McCullough suggests that people can increase
their sense of well-being and create positive social effects just by
counting their blessings. Several exercises have been designed to
increase one's experience of the emotion. Participants in such
exercises showed increases in positive emotions immediately after the
exercise is to systematically write down lists of things for which a
person feels grateful each day. Another is to write a letter of
gratitude or reflect on their thankfulness to someone who has obliged
them. Actively experiencing the emotion has been shown to improve the
outlook of people. The effect was highest for those who were more
prone to feel gratitude. The obvious implication is that gratitude is
more an inbuilt quality of people who are already well adjusted.
Gratitude is the outcome of a healthy state of mind rather than the
cause of one's sense of well being. But, people can improve their
sense of well being by frequently expressing gratitude.
Power Of Gratitude –Pessimism Unfounded
and gratitude cannot coexist. The pessimist feels that if anything
can go wrong, it will. He anticipates trouble just around the corner.
Yet, his thoughts are managed by one hundred billion neurons, which
ceaselessly fire thousands of times a second. Millions of people
perform myriad tasks to keep him fed, clothed and sheltered.
Thousands of components in an automobile work perfectly to transport
him daily to work. Modern life is a miracle of coordination, where
nature and technology work together to make life possible. While the
news media report murder and mayhem, the world moves at a more sedate
pace. If we believe that the world is remarkably well run, we will be
more prepared to face the challenges of the few things, which fail to
work. We can feel grateful that all the possible things, which can go
wrong, do not.
Power Of Gratitude –Gratitude For Skeptics
expression of gratitude to the Almighty is important in Western
religion. The devout feel grateful that they are showered with
blessings, in spite of being unworthy sinners. They feel gratitude
for their calm sense of being divinely protected from harm. They
accept the misfortunes and the agonies of life as being divinely
designed to strengthen them.
the skeptics are not so fortunate. They fail to comprehend an
incessant need for misfortunes to meet a grand eternal purpose.
Neither do they feel protected from random accidents and disasters.
But, even the hapless skeptic can also begin to feel gratitude by
stilling their troubling emotions. When they begin to accept much of
the surrounding misery as an irrevocable part of life, and when they
choose to enjoy the positive feelings of wonder, love and compassion,
the balance of emotions will shift in favor of gratitude.
Power Of Gratitude –Gratitude To Life
skeptic needs to direct his gratitude. Free from turmoil, he calmly
accepts whatever is in store in life and lives mindfully,
filled with wonder, love and compassion. Life is no longer an
insufferable option. Without expecting anything back in return, life
has given him the opportunity to live calmly and joyfully. He does
not owe anyone a debt for this opportunity. Gratitude is naturally
triggered, when you receive an undeserved benefit.
joyful life is a priceless benefit, which resulted from the
unchanging laws of nature, which made life itself possible. Were
those underlying maxims, which finally led to life, created, or did
they exist forever? According to Einstein, we will never know.
According to Hinduism, not even Brahma knows. But, the skeptic can
feel grateful that, altogether unearned and utterly gratuitously,
life happened. He also knows that his gratitude will not save him
from being run over by a bus, because true gratitude is not felt in
anticipation of future favors.
This page was last updated on 01-Jan-2014.