The Power of Gratitude – Wellness Skill #1
by Jody Willows
What is Wellness?
One definition of wellness is feeling good and feeling good about yourself. It is also making others feel good about themselves and what they are doing. The primary relationship skill for doing that is gratitude. Recently, a friend was walking through the food court in a mall and spotted a female janitor cleaning up a huge mess someone had left on a table and the floor beside it. When he stopped to thank her for a job well done, her face lit up like a candle. She smiled, blushed and said, “Thank you, you made my day.”
What is the Power of Gratitude?
Every time you say “thank you” to someone for anything, something changes inside you and in the heart of the recipient. A little miracle happens, the effect is immediate and pronounced—a burst of positive energy erupts, leaving both parties feeling joyful inside. This is the highest state a human being can reach.
Gratitude in Families
The Law of Love says that we give warm love to those closest to us, and goodwill to everyone else. We give warm love to family members in numerous ways, through acts of service such as being a caregiver to our aging parents, in gratitude for everything they did for us when we were growing up. We show love to our children by giving them the best education possible, helping them to get started in life, the giving of gifts on special occasions, working together in harmony, treating everyone with kindness and honouring their beliefs and opinions. The love bond in families is strong enough to transcend lifetimes.
Gratitude as Goodwill
Goodwill means respecting the space, beliefs, boundaries, and property of others. It also means lending a helping hand when someone is in need. People who carry an attitude of gratitude appreciate the fact that we are all the same, but different. One of the best ways we can express goodwill is to let other people be themselves.
Expressing Gratitude with Money
Many people express gratitude when they receive good service in restaurants and hair salons, or from hotel staff and cab drivers, by giving them a tip or gratuity. One person noted that people who tip waiters regularly seem to get better service and enjoy their dining experience more than those who don’t. The reason is simple: what goes around comes around.
Expressing Gratitude to Co-workers
Outside of family, we spend more time with co-workers than anyone else, and many of these people become close friends. The basis of any long-term relationship is common interests, respect, and expressing gratitude often and with sincerity. People remember two kinds of interactions they have with others in the workplace—the good and the bad. Expressing gratitude is one way to ensure all our encounters are positive, harmonious, and upbeat. It leaves everyone feeling uplifted. Harmony and trust build strength; without them, relationships break apart.
Gratitude as Compliments
A compliment is a form of appreciation that tells another person two things—one, that you noticed them, and two, that you appreciate the work they do or something extra they did that made a difference. One person said they always make a point of thanking people in the service industry whenever they have a good experience, and this includes bank tellers, cashiers, airport check-in staff, and automotive mechanics. A compliment costs nothing, is not quickly forgotten, tells someone they are special, and boosts their self-esteem.
Gratitude as a Game Changer
When a friend broke his hip, he started out grumbling, making himself miserable. Then, one morning, a happy nurse turned the situation around by opening the drapes in his room and telling him how lucky he was to have a bed by a window. He hadn’t even noticed. After he thanked her for pointing it out, he felt better inside and began enjoying his view. When he started thanking the person who brought his meals, he found the hospital food tasted better. Whenever he thanked the nurses for helping him with the various procedures, they seemed to go smoother and with less pain. Finally, he started seeing all the good things that had happened since his accident, and was grateful for the entire experience. The result was his physio went better than expected, everyone he encountered was helpful and cheerful, and his surgeon told him he made one of the quickest recoveries he’d ever seen. His life returned to normal before he knew it. His final act of gratitude was thanking his spouse for rearranging her schedule in order to spend most of her time at the hospital everyday tending to his needs.
Rumi’s Definition of Gratitude
In a poem by the 13th century poet Jalal u’ddin Rumi, he answers four questions:
What is the body? Endurance.
What is hidden in our chest? Laughter.
What else? Compassion.
What is love? Gratitude.
Your Gratitude List
An effective wellness technique is to keep a “gratitude list” in your journal of all the things you are thankful for, starting with the gift of life. What makes this technique so powerful is that as you add to it daily, your level of happiness increases and you begin to see all the blessings in your life.
Jody Willows, BA, LLB, Registered Professional Counsellor, lives in Saskatchewan. For more information on the power of gratitude as an aid to wellness, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.