As this time of year approaches and the seasons change, you will most likely start seeing that word appear more and more often all around you... gratitude. Gratitude is a becoming a more well-known way to cultivate more positivity and health in your life. It is recognized as an antidote to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and shame.
Robert Emmons states that gratitude is "an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we've received." He goes on to state that "we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. We acknowledge that other people -- or even higher powers, if you're of a spiritual mindset -- gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives."
Gratitude is beyond a fleeting "thank you." It is the experience of having enough in this moment -- being good enough, beautiful enough, successful enough, happy enough and allowing yourself to feel that. Is there a time you have felt that you had enough? That you were enough?
"Enough" is a feast. -- Buddhist proverb
When you practice gratitude, you are honing in on everything within the current moment and space in your life that you actively acknowledge. So... it would make perfect sense to say that the best way to give thanks for that recognition would be to give it away. Gratitude is not born in a vacuum. It is the product of connection and systems. Even if it is not connection to another being, it is a connection to something outside of yourself. When people wonder how to expand their experience of gratitude, my first thought is "give it away."
"Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." William Arthur Ward
Give your gratitude away. Share it. Wrap it in the form of kindness and compassion for others and act accordingly. If you're grateful for something, state it -- or, at the least, show it! Think about the times you have been on the receiving end of a "thank you" or the recipient of a selfless gift of love, kindness, or respect. I know that you know it feels great.
Don't just take my advice. Start following others who are mindfully committed to cultivating gratitude and spreading it throughout the world. Project Happiness and Mindful are a couple of my favorites.
Enjoy spreading some gratitude throughout your life this holiday season!