What Is Gratitude?

What is gratitude? Harvard Medical School has defined gratitude as,

“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.” 

When we develop gratitude practices, according to Dr. Robert Emmons there are two stages of gratitude. The first is an acknowledgement of the goodness in a persons life, and the second is recognizing that some of the sources of goodness are outside of the self. 

Today more people are beginning to study and understand the powerful effects that a practice of gratitude can have in our lives. Through the years as I have explored what my personal practice of gratitude looks like, I recognize that in my exploration, as I focus on the things I am grateful my outlook in life tends to be more positive, and I experience more joy in my life despite the difficulties I have faced. 

Today was the first real snow fall in Colorado Springs, and the cold air as it flows through my lungs is a beautiful reminder of how grateful I am for the gift of breathe. Having experienced many times in my life where my breath has felt constricted, the more I explore what it feels like to breathe in my body, the more deeply connected and grateful I am to God who gives me breath. 

What is something today that you are grateful for? What are the ways you feel that gratitude in your body? What is the source of your gratitude? I invite you to spend a few moments today to explore where you see gratitude in your life.