Many of us express our gratitude by saying “thank you” to someone who has helped us, given us a gift, or done something else for us. However, from a scientific standpoint, gratitude is more than just an action: it is also a positive emotion that serves a biological purpose. Continue reading: What Exactly Is Gratitude, and What Are Its Benefits?
There are numerous things that can elicit positive feelings of appreciation or gratitude, which can lead people to mean and better health.
Positive psychology defines gratitude in such a way that scientists can quantify its effects, leading some to argue that gratitude is more than just feeling thankful: it is a deeper appreciation for someone (or something) that produces longer-lasting positivity.
Here are some definitions of gratitude
Gratitude for the gift of life is the primary wellspring of all religions, the hallmark of the mystic, the source of all true art. (Joanna Macy)
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, gratitude is simply “the state of being grateful.”
The Harvard Medical School provides more detail, writing that gratitude is:
“a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
The next definition from a psychological perspective:
“the appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation”. (Sansone & Sansone, 2010).
“an emotion that is typically evoked when one receives costly, unexpected, and intentionally rendered benefits, and is thought to play a key role in regulating the initiation and maintenance of social relationships”. (Forster et al., 2017).
“a social emotion that signals our recognition of the things others have done for us”. (Fox et al., 2015).
This definition is important because it brings a social element into the definition of gratitude.
The social aspect of gratitude:
“if we acquire a good through exchange, effort or achievement, or by right, then we don’t typically feel gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion we feel in response to receiving something good which is undeserved”. (Lacewing, 2016).
“Gratitude is a positively valenced emotion that can arise when another person–a benefactor–does something kind for the self. (Algoe et al., 2016).
“Gratitude is not goods delivered in response to payment. It is a response to a gift … Gratitude, as a response to a gift, is also a form of generosity, of graciously crediting the other for something that was not strictly owed” (Roberts, 1991).
To know further about gratitude, Robert Emmons explains his:
“has been conceptualized as an emotion, a virtue, a moral sentiment, a motive, a coping response, a skill, and an attitude. It is all of these and more. Minimally, gratitude is an emotional response to a gift. It is the appreciation felt after one has been the beneficiary of an altruistic act” (Emmons & Crumpler, 2000).
What Exactly Is Gratitude, and What Are Its Benefits?
Here are some synonyms for gratitude:
The following are some antonyms for gratitude:
Gratitude in Two Stages
According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the feeling of gratitude has two stages:
- The first step is to recognize the goodness in one’s own life. We say yes to life when we are grateful. We affirm that, overall, life is good and has elements that make it worthwhile to live, as well as being rich in texture. The recognition that we have received something satisfies us, both because of its presence and because of the effort the giver put into selecting it.
- Second, gratitude acknowledges that some of the sources of this goodness are external to the self. One can be thankful to other people, animals, and the environment, but not to oneself. At this point, we recognize the goodness in our lives and wonder who we should thank for it, i.e., who made sacrifices so that we could be happy.
What are the Benefits of Gratitude?
- Being grateful makes us happier.
- Boost our self-esteem
- Boost positive emotions
- Gratitude improves our health.
- Boost social support
- People like us because we are grateful.
- Gratitude helps us advance in our careers.
- Gratitude increases the strength of our positive emotions.
- Gratitude boosts our optimism.
- Gratitude boosts spirituality.
- Gratitude helps us to be less self-centered.
- Gratitude boosts one’s self-esteem.
- Gratitude helps you sleep better.
- Gratitude allows you to live longer.
- Gratitude boosts energy levels.
- Gratitude makes us happy.
- Gratitude brightens our memories.
- Gratitude allows us to unwind.
- Being grateful makes you look good.
- Gratitude makes it easier to make friends.
- Gratitude helps you make better decisions.
When people express gratitude to one another, it creates a desire to reciprocate, which is a positive chain reaction to foster in any family, workplace, town, or society. Gratitude teaches people to appreciate what they have rather than always reaching for something new in the hope that it will make them happier or believing that they can’t be satisfied until all of their physical and material needs are met. Gratitude allows people to refocus on what they have rather than what they lack. And, while it may appear contrived at first, this mental state strengthens with use and practice.
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