Joys and Benefits of Expressing Gratitude and Thanks

By Val Silver

Expressing gratitude and thanks in words and through your actions are powerful spiritual vitamins. Research shows that the benefits of appreciation and thankfulness are many. Having an attitude of gratitude is good for your physical, emotional and mental health. 

Thankfulness feels good and is good for you. Those who make a habit of feeling grateful experience the same health benefits as happy people. They have lower levels of stress hormones and less risk of viral infections. They exercise more, sleep better, live longer, have higher incomes and more satisfying relationships. 

expressing gratitude benefits- if thankfulness were a drug - Doraiswamy quote

What is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a state of appreciation and thankfulness. We acknowledge receiving and having positive things in life. Perhaps we earned or worked for those things. Perhaps they were a gift or an unexpected surprise.  Feeling grateful is often associated with being happy about life's good things- those we love, having food, a home, good health, money, narrowly escaping an accident or mishap, having a good job, or getting something we want. 

Thankfulness is not limited to life's pleasantries. It is a choice you can make even when facing what you perceive as dark situations.  Feeling and expressing gratitude at these times opens your heart to receive a blessing when you thought no blessing could be found. It brings you into a state of acceptance and trust and allows you to see possibilities instead of only closed doors. 

Scripture challenges us with these words, "In everything give thanks...(1 Thessalonians 5:18).  I learned the power of this practice first hand while going through a difficult divorce.

expressing gratitude - gratitude unlocks the fullness of life -  Melodie Beattie quote

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Expressing gratitude as a way of life doesn't mean you have to feel happy about everything. It doesn't mean you wish nothing was different or do nothing to improve circumstances for yourself and others. It certainly doesn't mean you close your eyes to suffering and harmful situations or purposely create them.

Being thankful does mean you accept yourself and where you are in the moment. It means you open yourself to the present experiences of life even when they are painful or difficult.

When you align with source energy in this way you move out of the energy of resistance, or fight, and move into the energy of flow where you are more likely to receive inspiration and guidance. You can better see the help and support that is there for you.

How often have you heard people say that their cancer was their greatest blessing? Or that in retrospect, so-and-so leaving them was the best thing that ever happened to them? Sometimes we humans need a little push to move forward. Sometimes it hurts. But when we look back, it is often with gratefulness and a realization that things did work out for the best.

What if you don't want to express gratitude for a decent life? 

Perhaps you are in the habit of focusing on what you lack,  still want, and everything that makes you feel miserable.  Welcome to the human race. Our brains naturally focus on the negative. The media and our culture capitalize on that tendency and condition us to want better and more. You have been taught to never be satisfied. Not being satisfied equals not being happy. The trick is to feel grateful, happy, and satisfied for what you do have and for who you are, even as you move forward to achieving more of what you want. 

Think about it - why would God, the universe, Source, conspire to bring more blessings into your life when you aren't expressing gratitude for what has been provided for you already?

being thankful - thank you quote by Meister Eckhart"If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough." ~Meister Eckhart

If a scientific approach is your style, consider these benefits of giving thanks

According to research, there are several benefits of gratitude, showing appreciation, and giving thanks:

  • Expressing gratitude releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine gives you a natural high of good feelings and promotes pro-social behaviors. You feel more connected to others and they feel more drawn to you. A serotonin boost makes you feel content and relaxed. 
  • Practicing gratitude activates a part of the prefrontal cortex associated with neural pure altruism. This part of the brain craves the experience of showing benevolence to others.
  • Research shows that whatever you focus on strengthens its related neural pathways. When you focus on anger or lack or feeling sad, you build those pathways. Likewise, if you focus on expressing gratitude, love, peace and wholeness, you strengthen those pathways. In this regard, science has validated this working of the Law of Attraction right inside your own head.

Note that feeling gratitude has benefits, but these effects are amplified when you show appreciation through the spoken or written word.

How to Put the Power of Gratitude to Work for You

Put the power of gratitude to work for you to create more joy and inner peace in your heart and mind. Establish a daily habit of expressing words of gratitude. Offer heartfelt prayers of appreciation for what you have. Be thankful for your health, your car, or your food and clothing. Marvel at a sunset or a sleeping baby. Thank the clerk who stands for hours to check you out of the store.

  • Practice being thankful for big and little things, even if what you have appears less than 'good'. Saying thank you for the mundane, and even some annoying or difficult circumstances instantly shifts your perspective and relieves stress.
  • Write a gratitude journal or make lists of all you are grateful for. Prompts include letters of the alphabet, colors, names of people and pets you know, a specific topic such as landscapes, talents, cities, rooms in your home, etc.
  • Sing spiritual songs of thanksgiving.
  • Post meaningful quotes or prayers about the power of gratitude where you are likely to see them. Or create your own. Read books, stories, psalms or other sacred writings of thanksgiving. 
  • Experience this short gratitude meditation with Deepak Chopra as he guides you to be mindful of all you have to be grateful for.
  • When gathered around the table or at a meeting, start the conversation on a positive note. Ask each person to offer a sentence on what went well during the day or on a project. 
  • Look for the silver lining in the cloud. Do you ever have to react quickly because someone cuts in front of you in traffic? Yes, allow yourself a moment to react. Then switch to an attitude of gratitude for the fact that you are safe. Go a step further and say, "Thank you for all the safe drivers on the road with me. Thank you for the driver that just cut me off. Bless him/her and keep everyone around that car safe." I can almost guarantee that this will short-circuit the rush of negative emotions and harmful chemical shifts in your body and you'll feel better.Again, being thankful isn't a call to inaction. If someone is creating a dangerous situation, please dial for help. And offer thanks for the professionals who keep the roads safe. 
  • During those really low times, make a conscious effort to tap into the power of appreciation by naming at least five blessings in your life every day no matter how small. Yes, there are five things. Dig deep. Give thanks for breathing, your beating heart, food to eat, a friend, a chance to begin again. You may still feel sad or upset, yet you will notice a feeling of peace creeping in. Feel thankful that this too shall pass. Whenever you feel yourself sinking into the mire, turn on the power of gratitude. Say thank you for the situation even if you don't feel thankful. But be sincere. Tell yourself that a new day is coming. Look forward to it with a grateful heart.

Giving thanks and expressing gratitude in words and action is not a cure-all for all your ills, nor is it a ticket to getting what you want. It is a healing balm to your heart and to those on its receiving end. It is a willingness to step into the flow of life with its ups and downs and to be a light of unconditional love in all circumstances. Spoken or felt with sincerity thankfulness, it will raise your vibration and open you to new awareness and possibilities. Expressing gratitude may well be one of the most important things you can do for your health and happiness. It is a cornerstone of spiritual wellness.

Expressing Gratitude~Your Turn

Your turn - With all the negativity in the world, it's nice to take a few moments to remember and share the good things of life. The Law of Resonance teaches that the energy we put out is the energy we attract and add to the collective consciousness. I invite you to share what you are grateful for - a list, an event, a healing, a person you love.

Share what you are thankful for and read gratitude stories here.

Expressing Gratitude page updated 02/2020

Related Links:

gratitude sleep and insomnia help (video)Gratitude Practice for Insomnia and Other Sleep Help (video and article)
Source: The Neuroscience Behind Gratitude: How Does Cultivating Appreciation Affect Your Brain?

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