The fourth factor that contributes to a strong, resilient life is related to spirituality, which we discussed last week. I call this practice gratitude. Psychologists tell us that the expression of gratitude is a kind of meta strategy for building personal resilience and achieving happiness. Those of you who keep a gratitude journal will know what I mean.
First, the practice of gratitude can help us to re-frame those experiences in life that cause us distress or anxiety. Instead of focussing on the deep loneliness that many of us felt during Covid, for example, some have sought to look at the positive things that emerged from this experience, like more time for personal reflection and prayer, the development of patience, finding creative new ways to connect with people, and even spending more time in nature.
Think of gratitude as an anti-dote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, avarice, hostility, worry and irritation. So, it’s much bigger and broader than simply saying thank you for a gift, or a nice compliment, or when someone has passed you the butter!
The world’s most prominent researcher and writer about gratitude, Robert Emmons, defines it as “a felt sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.” Dr. Anne Beattie-Stokes writes that “gratitude awakens us to beauty, to wonder, to love, to ourselves, and to others.”
When you think of it, two little words can have tremendous power for good: Thank You!