Being grateful: a letter to humanity

Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow, writes Sharmin Bala. 

Did you know that three-quarters of our days, and for that matter  most of our lives,  we spend complaining about things we  don’t have, what  we couldn’t achieve,  or even the most ridiculous  things like the number of  likes and dislikes we have got on Facebook or Instagram? Aren’t we constantly grumbling about situations and people.  and when they do change, are we  grateful, or are we still whining?  Even if we have  nine of 10 things, we will focus on how to achieve that 10th,  rather than  being thankful for the  nine.

The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia,  meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude is a  thankful  appreciation for what an individual receives. Any real  civilisation is based on the principles of respect and gratitude. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — to other people, nature, or a higher power. A recent study conducted in Harvard medical school has revealed that in positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.

A similar study was conducted in California, in which one group of volunteers wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them and the third wrote about all the events that had affected them. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic  about their lives.

The majority of  research  indicates  expressing gratitude is associated with an enhanced sense of personal wellbeing.

On the basis of that respect and gratitude, there is morality, charity, and compassion.

A saint rightly said: "Gratitude is a divine virtue, so important that practically no other divine virtue could exist without it."

So, I got inspired to make a note of 10 things for which I feel grateful to God, on a daily basis. I felt that when we write, we actually feel grateful and happy, and  practising this exercise helps us to overcome  much of the stress, emotional turbulence and depression we go through every day. 

It’s  a wonderful feeling to express gratitude to God, in whatever form we worship Him. 

Studies have proved that expression of gratitude through writing has transformed the lives and consciousness of many individuals in a positive way. When a small boy plucks a flower from the garden and gives it to his father, the father feels happy and blissful, even though  the little flower has no significant value in his life. Similarly, God is so magnanimous  that even if we offer something insignificant with devotion, He will accept it wholeheartedly. 

Also, this exercise costs nothing,  gives us  satisfaction and peace, and helps us to connect with Him, even in the midst of the global competitive atmosphere. The irony of this age is  even with extensive technological advances to make life easier, man has no time for himself or for connecting with God.

- Dr Sharmin Bala is a PhD student in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Otago.

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