Performance-Enhancing Thoughts (PETs): Gratitude (2)

Performance Enhancing Thoughts: Gratitude

If we look carefully at the difference between the miserable and those who enjoy life we see that it is gratitude. … Gratitude is the key to joy, and joy is the happiness that does not depend on whether something makes us happy or not. [David Steindl-Rast, Faith beyond Belief: Spirituality for Our Times, p. 149].

Psychiatry has identified many personal social benefits associated with being grateful. Gratefulness promotes positive life experiences, bolsters self-esteem and helps us cope with anxiety and stress. It enhances positive emotions, character development and life satisfaction.

There are reasons to believe that experiences of gratitude might be associated—perhaps even in a causal fashion—with happiness and well-being. Researchers, writers, and practitioners have all speculated that gratitude possesses happiness-bestowing properties. Chesterton (1924) contended that “gratitude produced … the most purely joyful moments that have been known to man” (p.114). [Robert A. Emmons & Michael E. McCullough, Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life].

We cultivate a life of worship and devotion with the hope of reaping happiness, contentment and joy. We can store much of our harvest in warehouses of gratitude, for future consumption.

When somebody is aware of that love, the same love that the Father has for Jesus, that person is just spontaneously grateful. Cries of thankfulness become the dominant characteristic of the interior life, and the byproduct of gratitude is joy. We’re not joyful and then become grateful, we’re grateful and that makes us joyful. [Brennan Manning].

Spirituality of Gratitude

Gratitude expresses its ultimate value in spiritual terms. Being aware of the beneficence and mercy of God provides spiritual insight that enlightens our physical perspective. While reverence allows us to glimpse into the Divine Reality, gratitude brightens even the gloomiest crevices of our wrinkled brain.

The prism of gratitude refracts Divine beneficence into a rainbow of blessings across our spiritual horizon. Through gratitude, we see God’s favors in all creation.

Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. [James 1:17].

A grateful person knows that even in the agony of excruciating pain, anxiety and grief, things could be worse. Even when we have lost much, we still have much remaining, much to be thankful for.

Be thankful, therefore, for the least benefit and thou shalt be worthy to receive greater. Let the least be unto thee even as the greatest, and let that which is of little account be unto thee as a special gift. If the majesty of the Giver be considered, nothing that is given shall seem small and of no worth, for that is not a small thing which is given by the Most High God. [Thomas à Kempis, Imitation of Christ]

Gratitude strengthens our faith. By it, we recognize the efficacy of our supplications. Being constantly grateful reinforces our confidence that God hears our prayers, responds to our pleas, and is immediately available whenever needed.

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life. [Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude, p. 2].

Definition and Etymology

The Greek noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thankfulness,” “gratitude,” “giving of thanks,” is the name for the rite of the Last Supper. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin root gratia, meaning grace, graciousness, or gratefulness, and has the same root as gratis, meaning “freely given.”

We express gratitude when we receive a gift or a favor from someone who expects nothing in return. It is not an exchange of equally valuable commodities.

For, should you try to count God’s blessings, you could never compute them! Behold, God is indeed much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace. [Quran 16:18].

Commemorating Good Times

Is there a better way to remember God than in a state of gratitude? Gratitude is an essential ingredient of remembrance.

Thankfulness is the soul of beneficence; abundance is but the husk, for thankfulness brings you to the place where the Beloved lives. Abundance yields heedlessness; thankfulness, alertness: hunt for bounty with the snare of gratitude to the King. [Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, Mathnawi III, 2895-7].

Gratitude manifests continual commemoration of our good times. Our gratefulness prevents forgetting small miracles and ignoring Divine signs. It keeps us from envying others and from an insatiable desire for more and more.

As we lose our captivation with the mystery of God and his truths, we also lose our sense of gratitude to God … The loss is tragic, because we also lose all hope of finding any deeply and wildly satisfying hope. Our souls yearn for a wonder that reaches beyond the dimensions of our finite minds, and if we don’t allow a wonder toward God, we’ll search for it elsewhere, in false gods. [Philip Yancey, Meet the Bible, p.465].

Divine Brand

Can we come before God only in times or need or sorrow? When we have been grateful, it is easy to ask again for help the next time that pain or grief attack.

And [thus it is:] when we let men taste [Our] grace, they rejoice in it; but if evil befalls them as an outcome of what their own hands have wrought – lo! they lose all hope! (Quran 30:36).

Gratitude is a symbol of the Divine brand, distinguishing a believer’s response from others by means of a distinctive mental posture. It is always present in our temporal activities. It colors our personality and gives fragrance to our attitude toward worldly transactions.

Gratitude allows our thoughts to continue dwelling of God’s favors, thereby extending their positive after-effects. Residual thoughts of gratitude relive the blessed moments of our life. If “to be able to look back upon one’s life in satisfaction is to live twice [Kahlil Gibran],” to be ever grateful it to gaze into an infinite paradise.

Therefore remember Me, I will remember you, And be thankful to Me, and do not be ungrateful to Me. [Quran 2:152].

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