Researchers find the virtues of gratitude
Until recently scholars have largely ignored the field of gratitude as a subject of scientific inquiry however in 2003 researchers Dr Michael McCullough, of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and Dr Robert Emmons, of the University of California at Davis, say that gratitude plays a significant role in a person's sense of well-being. After making initial observations and compiling all the previous research on gratitude, they conducted the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving. The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred during the day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. Additionally, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. More information is available at The Osgood File, CBS Radio Network, ACF News Source. see the link http://www.acfnewsource.org
The following is something to ponder...
I am not aware of the original source of the following, however it is really relevant to recognising our blessings...
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ... you are more blessed than the millions who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death ... you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.
If you can read this message you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.
A personal experience
In my book "Switch On To Your Inner Strength" on page 214? I have written about an experience I had, which I believe is relevant to the subject and so have reproduced it below.
"As I drove away from Bryan's house I was mulling over the question of unconditional love. I was thinking about what is the greatest thing that anybody could ever do for another. My mind switched straight to the Bible and to the cross. I thought of what Christ's death had been, an act of love for others even to his death. In an eerie moment a strong thought entered my mind like a beam of light being forced in. I regard the “being forced in” as exactly what happened. The thought was not generated by me, it came from somewhere else. The thought was a transposition of the deaths of the girls over the death of Christ.
Could it be that the girls' death was an act of their love? Sounds bizarre by the standards of worldly reason I know, but this is the thought that was forced in. Could it be that, somehow, they had completed some form of spiritual purpose by being the victims? Have they set me on my current course by their death? Have they shown to me what is my spiritual purpose. I'll leave the question with you. You don't have to agree with me or to argue with me. You don't have to even come to a conclusion in your own mind. Just set it over on the side if you like as information, information about Sandy MacGregor. I know that I stopped the car and cried and cried."
Receiving any gift with gratitude
We’ve just had the “season of giving” when a lot of people will have received gifts that are perhaps fairly useless and perhaps not wanted. How do you react – usually of course with thanks and a show of appreciation. However I know somebody who has certainly been guilty in the past of not receiving gifts with gratitude – in fact quite the reverse. Yet that same person always gives generously, going to a lot of trouble to think about what the receiver may like best. I read on the internet (from the Washington Post) of an 8-year old child who is grateful for whatever gift he receives. His mother said that if he received a rock with dirt still on it he would be grateful and consider it the best rock he’s ever received – and mean it!
This mother’s observation was that if you get a rock, you should be thankful that someone thought enough of you to give you a potential paperweight. Even a miser who gives a gift that you suspect has been used is at least thinking about you.
Even if somebody gives you a “bad” or perhaps “used” gift, what does it really matter? Just have a sense of humour about it and accept it graciously. I also read a quote that went with the article, which was from Ralph Waldo Emerson: "He is a good man, who can receive a gift well."
Some suggested actions that we could take
A quote I like from John F Kennedy “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” Does this sound like “walk your talk”
It's a choice. We can choose to develop an attitude of gratitude, for that's what it is - an attitude. It's free and abundant and it's an element of happiness. So to whom or for what should we be grateful? It doesn't matter, take your choice. Let's start with positive things.
Make a list of all the joyous people in your life. Add in the things that bring a heartwarming smile to you. Remember the things we often take for granted - the oxygen in the air we breathe, the parks and gardens, the colours we see, our senses, our bodies, our lives ... let us count our blessings.
What about the clothes we wear - say the woollen garment - think about the people involved in the finished product: the farmer, the farm, the sheep, the shearers, the factory workers, the truck drivers, the designers, the shop, the sales people, and more.
Many times we can neglect those closest to us, especially when we perceive that whatever they are doing is their job, or their role in life. We often thank the chef in a restaurant, but not the chef at home. And who does the gardening, or the shopping, or mows the lawn, cleans the house, washes the clothes - I'm sure you get my drift.
John-Roger in his book "You Can't Afford the Luxury of a Negative Thought" says to (also) be grateful for the not so good things:
Why should you be grateful for the terrible things? First, you'll be meeting terrible things with feelings of gratitude, and gratitude feels so good. Second, the terrible things are part of your life, so there must be some reason why they're there. You might not know the reason yet, but, sooner or later, it will probably appear. So be grateful until it does, and when it does, you'll be in the habit of gratitude.
John-Roger also says:
Negative thinking simply cannot exist in a consciousness of gratitude. A nasty thought tries to take hold, and the attitude of gratitude says, "Thank you for that thought!"? Such appreciation diffuses negative thinking almost at once..
So, remember that we can be truly grateful for all the lessons that we receive this lifetime even though many major life lessons are as a result of some trauma. Look for the lessons and be grateful - it helps.
All the best