ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Days passed, I was sitting under a night sky gazing at the moon when bouts of introspection made me wonder about my attitude towards life and fellow other human beings. Developing a sense of gratitude, integrity, good values and positivity is what I have been striving for. Had love, care and affection not been into existence life would have no means. So there is a lot to be grateful for.

Considering people as the biggest asset I think back and recall my parents, teachers, friends, family and even a few strangers to whom I am grateful to. By God’s grace, there had always been somebody with me for help. Honestly, I wish to owe them everything of mine in some way or the other. To name a few, Vipul Agarwal sir is the one who had mentored me so well taking care that I learn never to give up in life. Chiradeep Bhaiya who made me a part of Candles family and had ignited my desire to write and serve others. Avinash Bhaiya who made me believe in the existence of God. Priya Aiyar Di, a good well-wisher of mine who had helped me with a big decision.

Although gratitude is not a process of give-and-take, more often than not it is misunderstood as the reciprocation of good deeds. Shiv Khera’s “You Can Win” book very beautifully explains that a good deed cannot be cancelled by a counteract. Sweet sounding words like thank you, a gesture of appreciation, a smile, handshake or a hug are not something that can be repaid or taken for granted. They too have a meaning and changes our outlook towards life.

With gratitude comes happiness, with happiness, comes love, with love, comes sacrifice and with sacrifice comes the sense of pride.

Albert Schweitzer very aptly said, “At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

BE GRATEFUL, BE HAPPIER

We all are aware of the lessons that 2020 taught us- like how to be optimize resources, how to live with the bare minimum, how to work to the best of your capabilities and a lot more. One of the biggest lessons that everyone has taught all of us is Gratitude. While my 9-year-old was cribbing about his online classes and the pandemic altogether, I kept telling him to be grateful for what we had, rather than complaining about what we were missing. We were safe, together, at home and eating well. 

Of course, life isn’t a piece of cake, but when we are in a tough situation, we often feel like that is the worst thing to have happened, but often forget to realize that something worse could have happened.

One of my friends recently lost her mother. It was devastating for her obviously, but she was contented that she could meet and talk to her on the last day. 

Be grateful and express gratitude is what I wish to practice personally. Before going to bed every night, I say a small prayer and end with this line- ‘Thank you God for everything’. We are forever grateful to God and mother nature. During the pandemic, I was in terrible stress, like most of us. I started thanking the mother nature and felt so much better. I literally used to start my day by drinking water and thanking water. I thanked the Sun, the wind too! Though I was aware that everything was created by one living God. Watching clouds and birds became my favourite pastime and I captured some good shots too!

We are grateful to our family and friends, but we often take them for granted and overlook the good deeds they do for us. Life is short, is what I always say. Be grateful for what you are today, be grateful to those who have been with you and express your gratitude to them, don’t wait for tomorrow, for tomorrow may never come.

GRATITUDE A CATALYST FOR HAPPINESS?

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means graciousness or gratefulness, depending on the context). In some ways, gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for any tangible or intangible things that the individual receives. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. Gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or supreme power. 

I agree igniting the gratitude vibe helps us to see that not everything is terrible. But many times, we force ourselves to be grateful. There are certain situations in life when we pretend everything is okay when actually it’s not! By doing this, are we not masking our actual feelings? When we show gratitude to hide the real problem, it can never be a catalyst for happiness! 

Many of us have met some people in our life who express gratitude in every situation irrespective of the fact, whether the situation deserves our gratitude or not! Some people keep thanking other people multiple times in return for a small favour. There is another category of people who express gratitude to others for their own achievement. They downplay their talent and success by inappropriately expressing gratitude to other people. These expressions of excessive gratitude can have negative impacts on us. 

Thus, consciously cultivating an attitude of gratitude builds up a sort of psychological immune system that can cushion us when we fall. Moreover, scientific evidence shows that grateful people are more resilient to stress, whether minor everyday hassles or major personal upheavals. Hence, the contrast between suffering and redemption serves as the basis for practising gratitude.

HOW I EXPERIENCED THE POWER OF GRATITUDE

When our organization declared permanent Work from Home on 18th of March’2020 – I was delighted. No more traffic jams. I can sleep till 8 am. I can nap in the afternoon. I can work late in the night. WFH was a blessing. Within a month, reality hit like a slap on my face. I was dying to talk in person to somebody of my age (I live with my in-laws and my son). I wanted to feel the fresh air. I even started to miss the never-ending traffic jams. Work-life balance was totally off the charts. There was no time to even take a bath. There were days when I would realize at 7 pm that I forgot to take a bath or even comb my hair. 

Soon after depression hit. I started to look at every aspect of my life negatively. As a means to cope with depression, I started binge-watching TV series and eating junk late at night. My health started to suffer. To further vent out, I wrote many anonymous blogs complaining about every aspect of my life. Anonymous because I didn’t want my people to judge me, yet I had a strong need to vent out. 

This went on for a while. Arguments and discord were on all high at home. I was raising my voice and my hands on my son for every little thing – soon enough I hit the rock bottom with no way out in sight. Work pressure was only increasing and that was the only relief. Frankly, work was my escape path, I could work late nights to get away from my negative thoughts. But of course, that was just a temporary escape and not a solution. 

Then one day while browsing social media – I came across a post from a lady named Preeti Kamat. She introduced herself as a “Life Coach” or “Law of Attraction Guide” and she was offering a WhatsApp course on Emotional Mastery. It sounded interesting but I ignored it initially. Later that day after a nasty argument at home, I just picked up the phone and sent a message on WhatsApp her asking for information on joining this course. 

I am not going into details of this course or many other courses I have done with her till now, but I am just going to talk about one little thing that she made me do and it totally turned around my life. Among many other things – she asked me to 

  • Write 10 things that I was grateful for every night before sleeping. 
  • Remember 3 things in the morning that I am grateful for

Trust me, it was a challenge initially. It couldn’t find more than 1-2 things that I was truly grateful for. And usually, those 1-2 things were also work-related. But I forced myself to write. Slowly gratitude started to flow. And within one week I could count 15-20 things that I was truly grateful for. In no time, I started sleeping well, I stopped binge eating or watching junk stuff, my overall well-being improved. And as these things happened, I had more things to be thankful for. I was on a continuous upward spiral.

Today things have turned around so much that we as a family are going on trips together, eating together, giving gifts to each other and working to make each other’s lives easier in every way possible. If there is one thing that I need to be thankful for is the fact that I built a beautiful and most amazing relationship with my in-laws during the lockdown. This would have never been possible if I didn’t have so much time to spend with them under the same roof. This time turned out to be a blessing because I chose to live a life of gratitude, without which it would have been filled with deep misery. 

“Whatever you appreciate, appreciates”. What I experienced and witnessed, was no less than a miracle and I am truly amazed at the power of Gratitude. 

A WORLD SANS GRATITUDE

Mr. Cold was busy in his laboratory developing a variant to be introduced in the human body. His intention was to unleash something so dreadful upon the world which is no less than an apocalypse. He had his mutant ready but so eager he was to test it in the real environment that he didn’t bother to have the antidote ready for it.

He released the virus “NOGRAT” in the air and sat back to see the drama unfold. As the virus spread in the air and inhaled, it instantly froze the hearts of people by squeezing out the warmth. The very source of warmth – Gratitude evaporated. And a different psychological cycle started operating. No one felt thankful to anyone for anything.

The privileged were thankless for what have or acquired hence the very emotion of service to give back to society extinguished. The already existing wedge in the society between the haves and have nots widened beyond imagination.

Children are not thankful to their parents for providing them a safe haven. Students were not thankful to their teachers for showing them the right path. As a result, respect breathed its last.

Friends, Family, Relationships all shed gratitude and don new robes of brand “ungrateful” and forgot every sweet and kind gesture they have been bestowed upon. Care, Love, Loyalty – burnt to ashes and buried deep down.

People devoid of gratitude towards God, towards fellow human beings, were soon bereft of all emotions that had gratitude as a breeding ground – love, care, sense of belonging, benevolence, sense of commitment, loyalty, respect, the intent of service. Meanness, Greed, Lust, Hatred, Jealousy now active in frozen hearts turned them into mechanically working robots. The air of ingratitude now started engulfing nature as well. Droughts, cyclones, famines, and fury everywhere. These extreme conditions made the inhumane humans devoid of all godly emotions devour on each other.

Mr. Cold was enjoying this sitting in his laboratory as the world sans gratitude was crashing because of his virus “NOGRAT”. As he let his hair down after a devilish experiment his pet dog came to him running from outside. It inhaled the same air that everyone did. He loved his pet dog. As he tried to snuggle with the dog it bit him.

He cried in pain as he shook off the dog away from him calling the dog “You UNGRATEFUL creature!!” and it was the very moment when he realized what havoc he created robbing the world of happiness as he stole the seed itself – Gratitude. And the horror is haunting him as he locked himself in a dark room, slowly inching towards death away from any help from the monstrous world which was once beautiful and helpful…

Trrrrrinnggggggg…

My alarm rang and I snapped out of that dreadful and scary dream. It’s beyond the contemplation of my wisdom to imagine a world sans gratitude! Gratitude isn’t a singled out emotion, but an ecosystem in itself, a gamut of various positive emotions. Being thankful for the almighty is the beginning of the thread that weaves the bonds between human souls. Being grateful in itself is great, it teaches humility, love, responsibility, loyalty – differentiating a human from just man – food for thought.

HOW GRATITUDE CAN BE THE CATALYST FOR HAPPINESS?

I was wondering about how gratitude can be the catalyst for happiness since Rajnandini said so.

I decided I will do a thorough screening of Gratitude.

Firstly, Gratitude is effected because of three elements –

  1. The Giver – A person who gifts
  2. The Gift – In the form of a good or a service or an action
  3. The Receiver – A receiver of the gifts/services usually expresses gratitude to the giver

Secondly, Gratitude confirms satisfaction for both the giver and the receiver of the gifts or services. The receiver of the gifts expresses Gratitude when he or she is satisfied with what he or she receives. And the giver of the gifts feels satisfied when he or she was expressed Gratitude for what he or she gave/gifted.

Thirdly, Gratitude deepens the bond between both the giver and receiver of the gifts as well as Gratitude.

So from the above screening of the word Gratitude, we clearly understand how Gratitude can be the catalyst for happiness between two people who are bonded in some manner.

But there was another question raised within me, Will Gratitude be a catalyst for happiness between two enemies or two persons who don’t get along well with each other?

I have seen people coming closer to their enemies and saying, “Thank you for showing respect or doing this for me“. And they both come together in a friendship once more. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Gratitude enhances sensitivity and empathy in people toward others and helps decreasing the desire to seek revenge.

So what’s the final outcome of showcasing Gratitude? It is nothing but Happiness

In conclusion, I want to point out that Gratitude has a bigger attribute hidden inside it and that is – Acceptance. That is the secret behind how Gratitude is the catalyst for happiness. A grateful person always accepts everything and that is the reason why he or she stays happy.  

 

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE – A PROPELLER TOWARDS HAPPINESS

Think of the last time someone expressed their gratitude towards you.

I’m sure you felt good, even if you might have modestly brushed it off your shoulders with your feet firmly implanted on the ground! To receive an acknowledgment or appreciation or recognition for something that you have done or said generates an inner pleasant feeling. This is to a great extent due to the constructive neurotransmitters secreted by the brain as a recognition of the expressed gratitude.

So you see, a Thank You does a whole lot more than is overtly evident!

If you take some time to recollect all those incidents in which you deserved gratitude, but they simply didn’t come your way, you would also remember the accompanying strong or faintly sinking feeling which was either momentary or long-lived.

Gratitude is an attitude of the heart. It can never be coercively eked out from anyone. At the same time, it can never be imposed on anyone. Not everyone has the attitude of being grateful. And, not everyone has the heart to graciously receive gratitude.

However, considering the lot of good that gratitude does to self and others, it is an attitude worth cultivating.

A couple of days back, as I walked past a particular lane in my vicinity, I saw heaps of bricks on one side. A house was being constructed nearby. My thoughts instinctively drifted off towards the poor workers at brick kilns in not-so-welcome environments, facing exploitation, bondage, deprivation, and abuse from their owners. And I thought, would the owner of the house that was being constructed ever think of the source of the bricks that are being used to erect his house?

An old Vietnamese proverb says –

“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”

In the fast-paced consumeristic world that we live in, we either don’t take the time to look back and be grateful or we make much ado out of the gratitude that we express or we flow with the tide of the formal exchanges of gratitude. The spontaneity of the heartfelt expression has become a rarity!

G.K. Chesterton says –

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Gratitude sure is a catalyst for happiness. It gives happiness to the one who expresses and to the one who receives.

Family is one such social circle where gratitude is taken for granted. I have heard people say that there need not be such formalities within the informal environment of a family because it makes relationships appear distant. I choose to differ. Within a family are individuals whose need for appreciation, recognition, and acknowledgement is as profound as those of others we come across in the world outside. It sure would seem hypocritical to organize formal Thanksgiving ceremonies, while having a gratitude-starved dear one within the family!

Another significant area of starved gratitude is in the authority-subordinate equation. Words of gratitude are seldom heard from people in authority towards their subordinates on a day-to-day basis. The work done, targets met and tasks accomplished are taken for granted. A word of acknowledgement with a smile would surely do wonders for the boss as well!

How to cultivate the attitude of gratitude?

If gratitude doesn’t come to one spontaneously, it needs to be cultivated. Here is how you can work your way towards cultivating the attitude of gratitude:

First, reflect upon your life and acknowledge the things bestowed on you – by God, by family and friends.

Second, recognize the inner need for gratitude in yourself and others.

Third, consciously decide to express gratitude. An unexpressed feeling of gratitude can be more stifling than no gratitude at all.

Fourth, think of ways to express. It can be by way of spoken or written words, by small or big acts of recognition, or by any gestures that convey the meaning.

Fifth, defeat your ego or coyness as may be the case. Put your guard down.

Finally, just go ahead and express it!

As you make this a habitual pattern, you will sense the spontaneity of the overflow of gratitude in your heart. The more you express gratitude, the more you will notice things that you need to be grateful for.

One of the best personal practices is to be thankful to God each morning and at the end of each day, for the world runs along by His might and grace alone, though we keep chugging on with our share of responsibilities.

The wise Psalmist writes –

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

In Candles Online, we have dedicated this month to explore different facets of Gratitude. This week our writers would continue with writing on the impact of gratitude on happiness. Enjoy reading!