The dictionary defines gratitude as the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. An example is that she expressed her gratitude for getting support. The word originates from the late Middle English, from Old French, or from medieval Latin and from the Latin ‘gratus’ meaning pleasing and thankful. The word therefore implies feeling, emotion and the sharing of this feeling and emotion with someone.
Yet, how often and every day we gloss over the opportunity to feel or much less show gratitude. Think about it. Especially we can ask how we stay mindful to show and feel gratitude with those closest to us?
This emotion is related to care and the ability to care deeply for and with another. It requires noticing and attending to the small and not so small things we can do for a partner or that our partner does for us. This brings us to the details of emotion and feeling and the value of sharing them.
Gratitude is needed to feel and express for our well-being. It will make us feel more alive and more attached. This can be called a connecting emotion as it has qualities that exist best in a relationship. The nuances and ways of being in gratitude accentuate the layers of love residing in us and in our relationship of love.
We can say that gratitude is one of the cornerstones for love. It molds our ways of relation, creating a softness and tenderness of expression. Love is part of gratitude and through it we learn more about the many expressions of love. Feelings keep us alive and prevent emotional numbness. They put us in the present and make us focus on what is going on this minute.
Gratitude allows us to attend to all we do have. The glass is not half empty as there is a container that holds good things. The container may be our life and our relationships. It does not have to be perfect, but might just be sufficient, if we take the time and effort to look.
For example, while writing this I realized I had in my drawer a card from Trader Joe’s; a store that sells the average along with the special. The card has a saying from Lao Tzu, the founder of Taoism in ancient China. The saying is, “To know when you have enough is to be rich beyond measure”. The point here is also that in the drawer, hidden from view, is a reminder about gratitude and its value in our lives. The task and the pleasure are to take the hidden out of the drawer and put them into whatever action expresses your gratitude.
Susan E. Schwartz, Ph.D.