Gratitude has become a hugely popular concept. With countless studies, scientists and researchers have been analyzing the association between higher levels of gratitude and wellbeing.
For example, Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California Davis, a world authority on the subject, has found in his extensive research work how gratitude works to improve our physical and mental health, including benefits such as protection from stress and depression, more fulfilling relationships, better sleep and greater resilience, amongst others. He defines it as an affirmation of goodness, recognizing that the sources of this goodness are outside us, and argues that cultivating gratitude can provide us with meaning and better health.
However, its popularity has also misled the concept to be rebranded from a rather superficial angle, framing it as the key for everyone to unlock a successful lifestyle, career and relationships; we can find a myriad of gratitude articles ranging from entrepreneurial to psychology journals. This has somehow reduced gratitude to what it may seem a simple recipe lacking any discernment or further reflection about the enormous importance of feeling gratitude in our lives.
But regardless the frame of reference, a genuine feeling of gratitude can be quite powerful. Practicing it may be a way to unlock a more spacious and rewarding perspective on life, if we see it as a state of mind that is fundamentally generous and open.
We can truly feel it, for instance, when we mindfully notice how our lives are supported by an intricate web woven by the effort and consideration of countless beings that make it possible. The unseen exertion of others is behind each of the innumerable elements that sustain and enhance our daily existence, from the food we eat to the act of kindness of the unknown that crosses our path. Gratitude is the recognition of this fundamental fact and actually experiencing it every day can certainly help to widen our state of mind towards one that is more empathetic and compassionate. So, it may be worth practicing it.