Gratitude is a word that is thrown around a lot. But what does it really mean?
We are told to be grateful but often it seems as if gratitude is more an obligation than anything else. Another item on our already overburdened to-do list. We may end up feeling resentful when we are expected to feel grateful particularly under difficult circumstances.
The key is to understand what gratitude really is and the impact it has on your life and the lives of those around you. In fact, gratitude has some hidden benefits that can improve your productivity and your life.
Why We Want To Cultivate Gratitude
Gratitude is not a feeling. It is really a way of life and a way of meeting life and all of its challenges.
Gratitude is a frame for reality, which enables us to align with the good in the world as well as the evolutionary progress of the human race. It is the opposite of resentful entitlement. Gratitude allows us to accept things as they are even as we try to improve them. It enables us to see ourselves as participants in creating the good in life.
Gratitude puts us in more positive relationship to life and others around us. It separates our attitude from our circumstances so that our current reality does not drag us down. Gratitude is a way of being that lets us participate fully in life without concern for rewards and status. It gets our ego out of the way.
Gratitude lets us give what we can, knowing that we are one of many so that we do not have to carry the burdens of the world on our shoulders.
Gratitude comes from valuing the opportunity to be here on the planet. Everything else is up for grabs.
How Gratitude Helps Us Live Productive Lives
When gratitude is the cornerstone of your life, a number of things happen:
- You can let go of controlling outcomes by simply working toward the best possible outcome and letting the chips fall where they may.
- You can be a work in progress and let the rest of the world be a work in progress as well – we are all learning. Mistakes do not make you or another person “bad.”
- You can give your all to anything you do and trust in the best possible outcome whatever that is. Gratitude lets you throw yourself into what you are doing. Happy to be able to participate, you can give your all and generally do better work as a result.
- You are free to completely immerse yourself in your life without reservations about comparisons and status. You can be yourself.
- You are free to love since loving is what makes life good for you and everyone else. There is no need to hold back.
- You are free to create since you are aligned with the positive. This means that even mistakes are positive since they help you get closer to creating something better.
- Emotional issues no longer affect you since you are not spending your time comparing yourself to others and fighting for an agenda.
- You can more easily accept others and yourself. We are all imperfect people seeking the best possible life. There is no reason not to be friends.
- You no longer take anything personally. Life presents difficult challenges for everyone; it’s not just about you.
- You let go of the need to immerse yourself in unnecessary adversarial relationships since you seek only the best for everyone. There is no one to harm.
- You trust that when something does not work out it is for the best. It fits your view that we are learning.
- You can embrace a trial and error mindset without fear. It is OK to experiment.
- You can have a positive attitude toward your choices by accepting what matters in the present without rejecting what may work at another time. Anything can be productive or counterproductive depending on the wisdom of its use.
- You can be more process oriented which raises the quality of your work. When you do not spend your time forcing outcomes or fighting other people, then you are more focused on the work at hand: the process and the details involved. You are able to do better work.
- You get rid of your own agendas so that you have a more accurate perception of what is needed at any given point of time. Each point in time has certain possibilities but not others. You embrace the current possibility, work with it, and let others go.
- You can let others make their own mistakes. We all make them as we learn. Letting people make their own mistakes is a way of trusting others to know what is best for them.
- You more easily align with what is necessary and what is good because everything else is a waste of time and energy.
- You do not need discipline since you are more naturally aligned with positive forces, so you are more comfortable with yourself, your actions and less likely to have regrets.
- You do not fight yourself or others since there is no reason to.
- You can be very relaxed because you are unfolding along with everyone else. Life works for you.
Gratitude Helps You Enjoy Life
Gratitude is a generous and relaxed quality that lets us be with life and a part of life. It is trusting, a quality that is often lacking in our social space. Because of that relaxed trust, work and love are easier and more enjoyable.
We only live a short period of time. Gratitude helps our time on earth be one of joy.
Featured photo credit: Baby with a Thank You Sign via Shutterstock