For a two-page summary of this inspiring seven-page WingMakers essay, click here. Each individual on Earth is exploring in a physical body new ways of experiencing life.
But what about when life goes badly?
In the midst of the economic maelstrom that has gripped our country, I have often been asked if people can—or even should—feel grateful under such dire circumstances. This essay is adapted from Gratitude Works!: A Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity My response is that not only will a grateful attitude help—it is essential.
In fact, it is precisely under crisis conditions when we have the most to gain by a grateful perspective on life. In the face of demoralization, gratitude has the power to energize.
In the face of brokenness, gratitude has the power to heal. In the face of despair, gratitude has the power to bring hope. In other words, gratitude can help us cope with hard times. I am not suggesting that gratitude will come easily or naturally in a crisis.
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We cannot easily will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy. Feelings follow from the way we look at the world, thoughts we Essays on gratitude about the way things are, the way things should be, and the distance between these two points.
But being grateful is a choice, a prevailing attitude that endures and is relatively immune to the gains and losses that flow in and out of our lives.
When disaster strikes, gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances.
Yes, this perspective is hard to achieve—but my research says it is worth the effort. Remember the bad Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratefulness if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted.
Our national holiday of gratitude, Thanksgiving, was born and grew out of hard times. The first Thanksgiving took place after nearly half the pilgrims died from a rough winter and year.
It became a national holiday in in the middle of the Civil War and was moved to its current date in the s following the Depression. Well, when times are good, people take prosperity for granted and begin to believe that they are invulnerable.
In times of uncertainty, though, people realize how powerless they are to control their own destiny. If you begin to see that everything you have, everything you have counted on, may be taken away, it becomes much harder to take it for granted.
So crisis can make us more grateful—but research says gratitude also helps us cope with crisis. Consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall. There is scientific evidence that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals.
The contrast between suffering and redemption serves as the basis for one of my tips for practicing gratitude: It works this way: Remember the bad things, then look to see where you are now.
This process of remembering how difficult life used to be and how far we have come sets up an explicit contrast that is fertile ground for gratefulness. Our minds think in terms of counterfactuals—mental comparisons we make between the way things are and how things might have been different. Contrasting the present with negative times in the past can make us feel happier or at least less unhappy and enhance our overall sense of well-being.
This opens the door to coping gratefully. Try this little exercise. First, think about one of the unhappiest events you have experienced. How often do you find yourself thinking about this event today?
Does the contrast with the present make you feel grateful and pleased? Do you realize your current life situation is not as bad as it could be?
Try to realize and appreciate just how much better your life is now. The point is not to ignore or forget the past but to develop a fruitful frame of reference in the present from which to view experiences and events.
In a recent study, researchers asked participants to imagine a scenario where they are trapped in a burning high rise, overcome by smoke, and killed.
This resulted in a substantial increase in gratitude levels, as researchers discovered when they compared this group to two control conditions who were not compelled to imagine their own deaths.Together, these four essays form an ode to the uniqueness of each human being and to gratitude for the gift of life.
“Oliver Sacks was like no other clinician, or writer. He was drawn to the homes of the sick, the institutions of the most frail and disabled, the company of the unusual and the ‘abnormal.’/5().
When I read the "Gratitude" essay on Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know? radio show, I had no idea it would trigger such a response.
We're still receiving. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and showing appreciation. It is a mindful acknowledgment of all that we have been given. When we focus on the abundance in our lives, we discover a greater capacity for generosity, cheerfulness, and contentment.
UDPATE: For the latest version of this list, subscribe to Writerland in the right sidebar to receive 31 Great Places to Publish Personal Essays in your inbox!. Meghan. I frequently receive e-mails from people looking for places to publish their personal essays.
Gratitude Gratitude, appreciation, or thankfulness is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.
In contrast to the positive feeling of gratitude, the feeling of indebtedness is a negative reaction to a favor (Tsang, a; Watkins, Scheer, Ovnicek, & Kolts, ).
Even though our reactions . The best way to our gratitude is to make the most of the opportunity we’ve been given, and being ready for our future. Again, to those who have made a difference in our lives, we say an infinite gratitude to you.