Each Thanksgiving as we sit around the dinner table, I am reminded to be grateful for the many blessings that my family and I have received. It feels incredibly fulfilling to reflect on the things in life that are inherently good, both in my personal life and in my professional one.
Thanksgiving is an opportunity to reminisce and give thanks; it is so natural at the moment when the table is bountiful and family is close by.
Cultivating Gratitude in Daily Life
However, cultivating gratitude in everyday life is a different story. Daily challenges obstruct our view of our blessings, causing many of us to dwell on the bad. This is something that can be really dangerous to our emotional health in the long run.
This year, I’m making a renewed commitment to express gratitude throughout the year, no matter how I’m feeling about life in the moment.
Here is why that is so important.
Why Gratitude is the Most Important Virtue
Gentleness, patience, compassion…each of these virtues are incredible determinants of our character. However, I would argue that gratitude is at the root of it all. Here’s why!
1) Gratitude is the parent of all the others.
This quote is by Cicero, and I fully believe it is true! People who are grateful for the love, friendship, and flourishing that they possess in their own life are more likely to work to bring it about in the lives of others. It drives us toward altruism in its truest sense.
2) Gratitude boosts our emotional health and wellbeing.
Gratitude is positive in every way. It boosts our well-being and outlook on life, helping us reach new levels of optimism. It’s no secret that an optimistic outlook works miracles in our physical lives as well. People who are positive in this way are more alert, more enthusiastic, more determined and have higher energy levels.
Robert A. Emmons (leading researcher on gratitude and happiness) says that practicing gratitude can up your “happiness levels” by around 25 percent!
3) Gratitude helps us give credit where credit is due.
When we express feelings of gratitude, whether out loud or on paper, we become more aware of the influences and individuals that got us where we are. How much of the goodness in your life was due to personal achievement? Odds are, a great deal of that goodness is a product of the generosity of others.