Gratitude is the quality of being thankful and a readiness to show appreciation for, and to return, kindness.
Hopefully most people can relate to how good those feelings can be, when we spontaneously realise just how much we have already or what we now have due to the kindness of someone, whether they are a friend or a complete stranger.
In this series of blogs, therapist and mindfulness teacher Tony O’Shea-Poon talks about the physiology of gratitude (what happens in our brains and bodies when we feel gratitude), the benefits of gratitude and how we might express gratitude so that it starts to become our normal state.
What has mindfulness got to do with gratitude?
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing our attention to our present sensory experience, noticing what is taking place and how we are responding. We observe through our senses, starting with the breath and often expanding to awareness of what we can see, hear, touch, smell, taste and what we can think and feel, in any given moment.
But mindfulness isn’t a dispassionate observance. During the practice, whether we are formally sitting in meditation or bringing awareness into our daily activities, we cultivate particular attitudes – attitudes that can support us and nourish us, leading to more peaceful states of mind.
One of these such attitudes is gratitude, the ability to notice what we have or what we have been given and to be thankful for it. It’s usually accompanied by the desire to offer kindness to those we are grateful towards. By meditating and focusing our mind on feelings of gratitude, these feelings become stronger and can lead to real shifts in the way we think and how we act in the world. A grateful person is someone we all like to have around, whether that be at home, in social life or in the workplace. A grateful person has a positive impact on people they come into contact with, creating a positive and supportive environment where everyone can thrive.
Gratitude Challenge #1
Spend some time (it can be as little as 30 seconds or much longer) sitting and reflecting on what you can be grateful for today.