3 Ways Gratitude Is More Than Merely Feeling Thankful
It’s that time of year where we all start thinking about the things we’re thankful for. Those feelings can (and should) go well beyond the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Even though this year has been so challenging, most of us have plenty to be thankful for, and plenty of ways to show gratitude.
For example, I’ve spent time this year counseling organ transplant patients. These are people who have to undergo major surgeries due to health conditions and other untimely situations. Although they may be fearful or concerned, many of them learn to be grateful for things like modern medicine, skilled doctors, etc.
So, why is gratitude more essential than just “feeling” thankful? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Gratitude Is a Way of Life
Gratitude is an action. You might argue that feeling thankful is, too, but there are some differences. When you are thankful, it doesn’t usually extend beyond a feeling — you’re thankful that something happened.
Gratitude is a response to that thankfulness. It is something you can show. Therefore, it can be seen as a result of thankfulness that can turn into a positive, active way of life. When you show gratitude, especially toward another person, it can often create a ripple effect. That person might feel thankful for your gratitude and continue to pay it forward.
2. Gratitude Comes From Within
When you go to the store, or someone gives you something or does a favor for you, what’s your automatic response? Unfortunately, the phrase “thank you” has become a bit of a surface response for many people. That doesn’t mean you aren’t thankful for those things, but it can often feel impersonal.
Gratitude, on the other hand, feels very personal. It’s what you feel when you’ve had time to reflect on the things you’re thankful for. It also doesn’t require another person to be triggered. For example, you might have gratitude for your job, where you’ve been steadily employed for ten years.
3. Gratitude Lasts Longer
Thankfulness, although necessary, can be fleeting. You might be thankful for someone’s actions as they happen, but you lose that feeling moments later. Because gratitude truly comes from the heart, it can last for years.
Gratitude will affect you profoundly, often more than feeling thankful ever will. You might feel grateful for someone or something, and that feeling will last for years. A sense of gratitude doesn’t go away, and it isn’t fleeting. For example, if you’re grateful for something (or someone), you may not see it (or them) for years, but that feeling will be just as strong the next time you do.
Using the example from above, when talking about transplant patients. Those patients will be forever grateful for the doctors and medical staff that worked on them. They aren’t just thankful for the completed work but grateful for their knowledge, skill, and dedication.
Gratitude often sparks a chain reaction. That doesn’t necessarily make it more important than feeling thankful. However, it does require us to go deeper into our own feelings because gratitude is a matter of the heart, while thankfulness tends to stay on the surface.
So, this holiday season and beyond, consider the things in life that you’re grateful for. What are you going to do about it? What does that gratitude inspire you to do and change? Maybe even try a gratitude meditation before jumping into your annual traditions?
If you want to know more about how gratitude and thankfulness impact the way you feel, please contact me. Together, we can talk more about the importance of gratitude and how it can actually change the way you think, feel and act while shifting your perspective on things.
If you’re interested in talking about your current work/life situation and what you are wanting to move towards or change, reach out anytime.