Why You Need an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is like a well-formed muscle - Use it or lost it Ed J. Pinegar

5 Reasons to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

The word gratitude has its origins in Latin, meaning gifts freely given. According to Dr. Angeles Arrien, author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, the Latin root of the word gratitude is grata or gratia — a gift. Gratitude shares a common root with the word grace, which means a gift freely given that is unearned.

Robert Emmons, Ph.D., the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, describes gratitude in two parts. First, it’s an acknowledgement of the good things in life received. And secondly, it’s the recognition that this goodness comes from a source outside of ourselves. This can be a higher power, the natural world, or from social connections with others.

Benefits Of Gratitude

Developing a habit of gratitude is one of the best things you can do to increase your health and happiness. Gratitude is emphasized by all the great religious traditions and is an important component of many spiritual practices. We are now coming to understand what the ancients already understood about the importance of gratitude. Here are five excellent reasons to develop an attitude of gratitude that have the support of science as well.

1. Gratitude makes you happier:

If you are already reasonably happy, gratitude can make you happier. But it can also lift your mood if you struggle with depression. One way that expressing gratitude works is by creating a surge of “feel good” brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. According to gratitude expert Dr. Robert Emmons, gratitude may work by reducing underlying negative emotions such as regret, envy, frustration, and resentment. There’s evidence that the more grateful a person is, the less likely they are to experience depression.

Clinical psychologist Philip Watkins found that clinically depressed patients show significantly lower levels of gratitude (nearly 50 percent less) than control groups. Psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani, author of Living with Depression, reminds us that gratitude needs to be expressed all year round. She says, “Stopping to give seasonal thanks is a wonderful thing, but what’s even better is practicing gratitude year round. In fact, studies show that consistent positive interactions, particularly ones that involve gratitude, increase happiness and decrease levels of depression.”

Gratitude can make your kids happier, too. A study led by Jeffrey Froh, co-author of Making Grateful Kids, found that materialistic teens do worse in school and are more likely to get depressed. Froh believes our materialistic value system is to blame for a lot of teenage angst. He contends that focusing on extrinsic goals like image, money, and status does not fulfill psychological needs — even if these goals are met — thereby contributing to depression.

2. Gratitude improves your relationships:

Being grateful can help you make and keep friends, and strengthen relationships of all kinds. Gratitude helps you connect and empathize with others. Expressing gratitude can enhance marriages and make the relationship more resilient. Some experts believe that gratitude is the glue that holds couples together.

Research finds that grateful people exhibit enhanced brain activity in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). These are areas of the brain linked to emotional processing, interpersonal bonding, moral judgment, and the ability to understand the mental states of others.

3. Gratitude makes you a better person — at any age:

Being grateful can make you an all-around nicer, more likable person. Those who regularly express gratitude are less materialistic and more spiritual. They are less self-centered and have better self-esteem. Grateful people are more sensitive, less likely to be envious, and less likely to be aggressive or seek revenge.

This holds true for people of all ages. When children from tots to teens are taught to be grateful, it makes them happier and better students. They act more kindly and generously to both friends and strangers alike. Gratitude enhances their sense of responsibility toward future generations which makes them better stewards of the environment.

4. Gratitude makes you healthier:

Feeling and expressing gratitude can make you healthier and it may even help you live longer. It reduces stress and increases emotional resilience. It helps you sleep better, especially if you do gratitude exercises before bed. It even boosts your immune system. Grateful people are more likely to take care of themselves — to eat healthy, exercise, and take measures to manage stress.

One study had participants keep a short, daily journal. One group wrote about things they were grateful for, while another group wrote about what went wrong that day. Besides feeling happier, those in the gratitude group reported fewer health complaintsand exercised more than the group that wrote only to vent their frustrations of the day.

5. Gratitude can give your career a boost:

Whether you are an employee, entrepreneur, or business owner, gratitude can make you more successful. Forbes, one of the world’s most popular sources of business news, has dozens of articles about the importance of gratitude in business. Being grateful can increase productivity and enhance your decision making skills. It can make you a better manager and help you understand and relate to your customers, co-workers, and clients.

How To Develop A Gratitude Habit

Some people are naturally more grateful than others, but expressing gratitude is a skill that anyone can learn to do. The first step to strengthening your gratitude muscle is to pay more attention to life and the people around you. It’s hard to be grateful for that which you do not notice! A great beginner’s exercise is to keep a gratitude journal. Buy a blank paper journal or use a gratitude app like Gratitude 365. One typical exercise is to write down five things you are grateful for before you go to bed. If you are stumped, it’s OK to start with the most obvious basics.

Once you’ve developed the habit of keeping a gratitude journal, you can get even more out of it by writing specifics — the more detailed the better. A University of Southern California study found that writing five sentences about one thing you’re grateful for is more effective than writing one sentence about five things you’re grateful for. Study participants who wrote in detail reported feeling more energetic, happy, alert, and excited than those who wrote generalities.

Let others know you appreciate them. Gratitude works even better when you share it. Develop a habit of telling one person every day what you appreciate about them or thank them for a job well done. Again, it helps to be more specific than general. Instead of saying to a friend “Thank you for being there,” tell them “I appreciate what a good listener you are. You have such wise advice and I always feel better after talking to you.” Imagine how different you would feel being on the receiving end of each of these sentiments!

Most people take the good things in their life for granted. If you aren’t sure whether you are sufficiently grateful to reap gratitude’s many benefits, you can take this gratitude quiz developed by The Greater Good Science Center based at the University of California Berkeley. It will help you know whether you are in need of a “gratitude tune-up.” If you are still having a hard time getting into the gratitude mindset, this video featuring Brother David, a highly respected Benedictine monk, should help. You’ll find more of his inspirational videos at Gratefulness.org.

You can change your life, the lives of those around you, and even the world by being grateful. It’s not hard to do and takes less time than many other healthy lifestyle habits such as meditation, exercise, or even brushing and flossing your teeth!

Today’s Blog post was written by Deane Alban and is shared from the following website: http://reset.me/story/5-reasons-to-develop-an-attitude-of-gratitude/

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Counting Our Blessings

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count Neal A. Maxwell The Power of Counting and Speaking Your Blessings

Once upon a time, a wise man met with a king. The king challenged the man with a riddle. He said, “In my hands is a small bird. Is it alive or dead?” The wise man paused and looked down.

The wise man thought to himself, “If I say it is alive, he will close his hand and crush it. If I say it is dead, he will open his hand and let it fly away.”

The wise man turned his head up and said in a soft yet commanding voice, “It’s all in your hands.”

The same is true for us. Our lives are in our hands. It is not always easy. We face struggle, challenges, and difficulties. But we can derive blessings from them, if we are intentional. We can, to use the phrase of the late Debbie Friedman, “find the courage to make our lives a blessing.”

To make our lives a blessing, we need to make two critical choices: count our blessings and speak our blessings.

Counting our blessings

As a father of two young children, I am truly blessed. Yet, that’s easy to forget at 3:00 a.m. when one child’s loud crying wakes up the other.

One of the ways I remind myself is by following an ancient Jewish custom. In Judaism, the first thing we are supposed to do each morning is sit up and say the words,

I am grateful to you, Oh God, who has restored my soul from sleep and given me the breath of life.

No sighing. No turning our pillows over and burying our heads in them. We recognize the blessing of life. We prime ourselves to live with gratitude. We count our blessings and find happiness in them.

Saying blessings

It is not enough, however, to recognize and count our blessings. We have to say them, too. Acknowledge them. Speak them.

That’s why the ancient sages urged us to say 100 blessings a day. Something magical happens when we give expression to our feelings, when we use words to show gratitude.

About a month ago, I saw an example of this magic. I was in my office when a member of my congregation came by. He had a burning question.

“I was dining at a restaurant in New York,” he began. “A few tables away from me a man stood up and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, and everybody in the restaurant cheered. Then the man walked quietly over to a corner, put on a yarmulke, and said some type of blessing. His and his fiance’s eyes filled with tears. Rabbi, do you have any idea what blessing he said?”

I recited a blessing I thought it might be, and he said, “Yes, that’s it! Do you have a copy?” “Sure,” I said. “Why do you ask?”

“I am planning to propose to my girlfriend this weekend, and I want to say it with her.”

With tears in my eyes, I handed him the blessing.

How a blessing works

Blessings express our feelings. They need not be traditional ones. They simply need to come from the heart. When they do, they can change lives.

I experienced this truth near the end of my grandfather’s life. We were very close. Up until his death, I tried to talk to or visit him every day. We would usually end our conversations with my saying “Talk to you tomorrow.” We did not say, “I love you.” He was not a warm fuzzy kind of guy, and it just did not feel right.

But during the last few weeks of his life, something changed. Perhaps it was the birth of my daughter or his declining condition. Whatever the cause, our moments became more infused with meaning.

When I said, “I love you”

A month before my grandfather died, I was sitting by his bed, talking to him. As I got up to leave, I felt a twitch in my stomach. Turning to him, I said, “Grandpa, I love you.”

He didn’t say anything. Our connection, however, had changed. Thereafter, we ended each conversation with my saying, “I love you.”

Saying ‘I love you’ to our dearest ones blesses them and us. It is a way we make our lives a blessing. It is something each of us can do today, tomorrow and for the rest of our lives.

This is one more way we can speak and share our blessings. When we do, we learn the discipline of gratitude and the importance of words in our daily lives.

Everyone has an opportunity look at his or her life and decide what to focus on. Will it be the tragedy, the pain, the hardship? Or will it be a blessing? You decide.

The Blog post I am sharing today was written by Evan Moffic and is from the following website: https://goinswriter.com/count-your-blessings/

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Finding Happiness…Let the Sunshine In!

Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows Helen KellerFinding Happiness: 11 Simple Ways to Get Your Smile Back

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ~The Dalai Lama

A while back my sister arrived for a family get-together and remarked, “Your mad laughter is missing. What’s happening?”

My mind trailed back to my childhood and teenage years and showed me images of a girl who could laugh easily, loudly, and madly.

Somewhere along the line I had lost my ability to laugh—truly laugh, with wonder and without worry.

At first I brushed it off because I didn’t even notice myself changing. The change was gradual, imperceptible.

I had come to take life too seriously.

As a child and teenager, I had disappointments. But as I think back, the hope for my future greatly outweighed my setbacks.

Of course, my future didn’t play out exactly as I’d imagined it would, and I encountered a series of disappointments.

My financial situation was far from great. My relationships went through turmoil and turbulence. I let them become set in stone and define my life.

I blamed myself for not being wise enough to make good decisions. I blamed myself for not being smart enough to catch my wrong decisions. I felt miserable. And then I blamed myself for feeling miserable, because strong people don’t waste time feeling miserable, do they?

I became angry and, even worse, I felt entitled to my anger. I felt horribly wronged. I directed my anger at people. I became less capable of experiencing joy, and therefore, giving it too.

Reading Tiny Buddha’s 365 Love Challenges emphasized for me how self-love is the beginning of the expression of love toward everyone else in our world. Still, it’s not always easy to be good to ourselves.

The inner critic is the most active when we need that voice to be appreciative and loving. Instead of spending more time understanding ourselves, we indulge in self-bashing, self-abuse, and harsh judgments about ourselves.

It takes some serious mindfulness and awareness to turn that around.

So, after a few more observations from people who thought I mattered enough to give me feedback about my attitude, I decided to observe my thoughts and myself.

I began to think of what made me feel better, and what helped me keep the feeling longer, so I could get my smile back.

After months of watching myself, I saw that a few things helped me consistently.

1. Being aware of physical and emotional triggers.

I started paying attention to my body. My health had a big effect on my mood, and vice versa. I starting eating what would calm my stomach and keep my body at ease.

Things like procrastinating made me feel bad about myself, so I kept up my schedule with greater caution. I also learned to avoid over-scheduling myself so I didn’t have things piling up, making me feel inefficient and inadequate.

Your body is constantly giving you signals even when you are trying hard to ignore it, so start paying attention.

2. Being aware of reactions.

I started focusing on the results rather than on the source of the problem. If things did not go as planned, I consciously avoided looking to fix the blame and looked at fixing the problem. I felt less overwhelmed and more in power. It also made me more approachable.

Develop the mindset to look for solutions, and avoid “if-only” thinking, since this only keeps you stuck.

3. Dressing up.

No matter how I felt, I always felt better when I got up and freshened up. Wearing well-fitted clothes, clothes that I liked, made me look better and, therefore, feel better about myself almost instantly.

There is a whole lot of science about dressing the part, so pick colors that will soothe and accentuate you own personality.

4. Following a ritual.

The simple act of following a ritual—any ritual—gave me a sense of stability and grounding.

Following a ritual that aligned with my beliefs and values made me calmer and more in control over other areas in my life.

I chose the ritual of mantra chanting before having my first meal in the morning, and that uplifted me immensely, giving me the assurance that I could change other areas of my life too.

5. Smiling more.

We smile when we’re happy, right? Wrong! Studies have shown that our external expressions act as a continual feedback loop reinforcing our internal emotions. So, smiling more even when we are unhappy gradually makes us feel happier.

True to this, smiling at strangers while standing in a queue or during a walk made me look beyond my world. To put it simply, it made me feel good, and I kept at it. Not to mention that smiling through a bad situation automatically seemed to defuse it.

Take time to do things that give you more scope for “happy-time,” like seeking the company of children, listening to music, dancing, cooking, reading, cleaning—anything that makes you feel like yourself.

6. Talking to somebody who loves you.

One afternoon, when I was recovering from an intense anger bout, my father called. I did everything I could to hide my anger from him. But during the conversation, he referred to an incident in my childhood and said, “You are always so childlike.”

It threw me off. Here I was, bashing myself for being angry and hurt, and feeling even more angry and hurt for not being able to control it, but a simple conversation with my father reminded me that I wasn’t always this way. The fact that he remembered it so fondly made me like myself. It made me want to let go and try again.

Make time for your old friends, your parents, your friends’ parents, and siblings—anybody who has been a part of your past who sees the best in you.

7. Being kinder.

Formerly, I had the tendency to show indifference to people with whom I was angry (and not necessarily engage in a war of words or palpable anger). However, it still made me miserable, irrespective of whether they noticed it or not. When I consciously resisted the urge to be indifferent to them, I felt more in control.

A kind exchange has the power to set the tone for your day. Kindness is not restricted to a physical exchange; even a gentle conversation over the phone or a kind email made me significantly happier.

There are hundreds of studies to show that kindness can impact your brain in a powerful way and increase your feeling of connectedness.

8. Making that decision.

After accidentally discovering my passion for writing about three years ago, I continued to put up with a stressful job and kept putting off my plans to start doing something that filled my soul.

Making the decision to quit and re-focus wasn’t easy. But making up my mind and letting go felt like I was clearing stale clutter and starting afresh in my mind. I felt invigorated, though it was hard work.

If you are on the brink of a major decision, making it one way or the other will be a great emotional leveler.

9. Starting somewhere.

I kept putting off my plans because it was not yet there—in my mind. In short, I was afraid of showing my imperfect side to the world. In reality, I was only judging myself.

Waiting for the perfect time to start/launch something is a mistake we all make. Even nature took billions of years to be where it is today. And it will continue to evolve for billions of years from now. Then, why do we have to be perfect today?

10. Breaking the negative thought pattern.

Every time I felt angry with somebody, it was because I associated something negative with him or her.

I started consciously associating positive things with them, like remembering the skill they are really good at or the one time they helped me or somebody else, and the negativity seemed to melt away. Of course, it kept coming back, but the more I countered it with positive thoughts, the less power it seemed to have.

So, the next time you are really annoyed with somebody, try remembering a nice thing about him or her. It makes a world of difference.

11. Remembering that everyone is only human, and that includes yourself.

Forgiveness contributes greatly to our well-being, fulfillment, and happiness. There is really nobody in the world who hasn’t been hurt or let down by somebody they trusted, or at least wishes they had been treated differently.

Everyone—that includes yourself and the people that hurt you—is only standing at one single point in the huge learning curve of life, and our actions spring from what we are exposed to from that particular vantage point. Understanding this was a huge milestone for me in learning forgiveness.

To seriously learn forgiveness as a life skill, spend more time with kids. They are the only people who unerringly practice the art.

To sum it up, for renewed happiness: Invest in yourself, take time to understand yourself, be gentle to yourself, do the things you love and, most importantly, give yourself time to heal, no matter how much it hurts!

Today’s article was written by Devishobha Chandramouli and is shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/finding-happiness-11-ways-get-your-smile-back/

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The Benefits of Gratitude…Make Every Day a Day of Thanksgiving

If you want to turn your life around, try THANKFULNESS. It will change your life mightily Gerald Good

So it’s the day after Thanksgiving here in the United States of America! I don’t know about you but I have Soooooo much to be Thankful for! I will make my remarks brief today. I want to make sure that you have time to read today’s blog post that I am sharing from www.happierhuman.com. I hope you will read it, take it to heart, and then share it with someone else so they can benefit as well!

The 31 Benefits of Gratitude You Didn’t Know About: How Gratitude Can Change Your Life

Do you want more from your life?

More happiness? Better health? Deeper relationships? Increased productivity?

What if I told you that just one thing can help you in all of those areas?

An Attitude of Gratitude

What the heck? Gratitude? Is this a Christian blog?

No. I’m not even religious. When I first started looking into gratitude, I wasn’t expecting much.

I was wrong:

Seriously? All that? Yes. This list of benefits was compiled by aggregating the results of more than 40 research studies on gratitude.

1. Gratitude makes us happier.

A five-minute a day gratitude journal can increase your long-term well-being by more than 10 percent.a1,a2,a3 That’s the same impact as doubling your income!a4

How can a free five minute activity compare? Gratitude improves our health, relationships, emotions, personality, and career.

Sure, having more money can be pretty awesome, but because of hedonic adaptation we quickly get used to it and stop having as much fun and happiness as we did at first.

How can 5 minutes a day have such a large impact? (click to show)

Gratitude makes us feel more gratitude.

This is why a five-minute a week gratitude journal can make us so much happier. The actual gratitude produced during those five minutes is small, but the emotions of gratitude felt during those five-minutes are enough to trigger a grateful mood.

While in a grateful mood, we will feel gratitude more frequently, when we do feel gratitude it will be more intense and held for longer, and we will feel gratitude for more things at the same time.

In five words – gratitude triggers positive feedback loops.

Hedonic what?

After repeated exposure to the same emotion-producing stimulus, we tend to experience less of the emotion. Put more simply, we get use to the good things that happen to us. This also means that we get use to the bad things that happen to us. Those who have been disabled have a remarkable ability to rebound – initially they may feel terrible, but after months or years they are on average just as happy as everyone else.

Hedonic adaptation gives unparalleled resiliency and keeps us motivated to achieve ever greater things. It also kills our marriages – we get use to our amazing spouse (or kids, or job, or house, or car, or game). We stop seeing as much positive and start complaining. It is a psychological imperative to fight hedonic adaptation if we want to maximize happiness. Gratitude is one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal.

Why does it take several months?

In all relevant studies, changes occurred slowly. It took several months of continuous practice for the largest benefits to appear. This is for two reasons:

  1. Cultivating gratitude is a skill. After three months of practice, I now have the ability to self-generate slight feelings of gratitude and happiness on command. With more time and practice, I expect the intensity and duration of the generated feelings to increase.
  2. Gratitude is a personality trait. Some people have more grateful personalities than others. Daily gratitude practice can change our personality, but that takes a long time.

2. Gratitude makes people like us.

Gratitude generates social capital – in two studies with 243 total participants, those who were 10% more grateful than average had 17.5% more social capital.b1

Gratitude makes us nicer, more trusting, more social, and more appreciative. As a result, it helps us make more friends, deepen our existing relationships, and improve our marriage.b2

3. Gratitude makes us healthier.

There is even reason to believe gratitude can extend your lifespan by a few months or even years.f2,f3,f4

4. Gratitude boosts our career.

Gratitude makes you a more effective manager,c1,c2 helps you network, increases your decision making capabilities, increases your productivity, and helps you get mentors and proteges.b1 As a result, gratitude helps you achieve your career goals, as well as making your workplace a more friendly and enjoyable place to be.a2, b2

I’m not suggesting that criticism and self-focus don’t have a place in the workplace, but I think we’re overdoing it.

65% of Americans didn’t receive recognition in the workplace last year.c3

5. Gratitude strengthens our emotions.

Gratitude reduces feelings of envy, makes our memories happier, lets us experience good feelings, and helps us bounce back from stress.b2,d1,d2,d3

6. Gratitude develops our personality.

It really does, and in potentially life-changing ways.a2,b2,d2,e1,e2

If you’re a man, don’t worry; gratitude won’t transform you into a woman.

Convinced of the benefits? Sign up for The Gratitude Hack, the course I created with the sole focus of helping you live a happier, more grateful life.

7. Gratitude makes us more optimistic.

Gratitude is strongly correlated with optimism. Optimism in turn makes us happier, improves our health, and has been shown to increase lifespan by as much as a few years.f1,f2,f3,f4 I’d say a 5 minute a day gratitude journal would be worth it just for this benefit.

  • In one study of keeping a weekly gratitude journal, participants showed a 5% increase in optimism.
  • In another study, keeping a daily gratitude journal resulted in a 15% increase in optimism.
  • Optimism is significantly correlated with gratitude (r=.51). The above studies show that it isn’t just correlation – increasing one’s level of gratitude increases one’s level of optimism.

The act of gratitude is the act of focusing on the good in life. If we perceive our current life to have more good, we will also believe our future life to have more good. Optimism is correlated with gratitude because those with an optimistic disposition are biologically more likely to focus on the good (gratitude) than on the bad (personal disappointment, anxiety, etc…).

8. Gratitude reduces materialism.

Materialism is strongly correlated with reduced well-being and increased rates of mental disorder.g1 There’s nothing wrong with wanting more. The problem with materialism is that it makes people feel less competent, reduces feelings of relatedness and gratitude, reduces their ability to appreciate and enjoy the good in life, generates negative emotions, and makes them more self-centered.g1,g2,g3

Why is materialism negatively correlated with happiness and well-being?

The pursuit of wealth and power has been shown in dozens of studies to be a highly inefficient method of increasing well-being and happiness. To be sure, if your income doubles you will be slightly happier. But how much effort do you think is involved in doubling your income? How many sacrifices are required? Motivational speakers will tell you that the money is worth the sacrifices. I disagree.

Applying that same level of energy towards strengthening one’s relationships, cultivating compassion and gratitude, and so on much more reliably creates positive, transformative change.

Said differently, material success is not a very important factor in the happiness of highly grateful people.

How does gratitude reduce materialism?

Materialism flows from two sources: role models and insecurity.

  1. Americans are inundated with materialistic role models every day: from advertisements which highlight materialistic themes, to celebrity culture which glorifies the rich and frivolous, to business culture in which we are told our dreams should be to be rich and powerful. Gratitude helps by reducing our tendency to compare ourselves to those with a higher social status.
  2. Those who are insecure, that is, those that have not had their basic psychological needs met (e.g. those who lack confidence, come from a poor background, or had unsupportive parents), are more likely to be materialistic. Gratitude is an effective strategy for reducing insecurity. A grateful emotion is triggered when we perceive an act of benevolence directed towards us.  Those who are dispositionally ungrateful are therefore less likely to perceive acts of benevolence, even if they are surrounded by a loving environment. Flipped around, those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude are more likely to perceive an environment of benevolence, which in turn causes their brains to assume they are in an environment full of social support, which in turn kills insecurity and materialism.

Will gratitude make me lazy?

Those who are more materialistic are more likely to relentlessly pursue wealth. So while gratitude won’t make you lazy, over your lifetime you may end up earning less money. You will instead re-focus on other things. You may, for example, spend time with friends, family, and your hobbies. That’s a good thing.

Gratitude has caused me to focus less on things that don’t matter, like making money, and more on the things that do, like my family and this blog. I think that’s a good thing.

9. Gratitude increases spiritualism.

Spiritual transcendence is highly correlated with feelings of gratitude. That is – the more spiritual you are, the more likely you are to be grateful.

This is for two reasons:

  1. All major religions espouse gratitude as a virtue.h1
  2. Spirituality spontaneously gives rise to grateful behavior.

I believe the opposite to also be true, that gratitude spontaneously gives rise to spiritual attribution, helping one feel closer to God or other religious entities. I am irreligious, and have found gratitude practices to make my spiritual position difficult – those moments when I feel intense gratitude make me want to believe in a benevolent God. My solution has been to re-direct my feelings towards Lady Luck.

Why does spirituality give rise to grateful behavior?

Many of the sub-traits associated with spirituality are the same sub-traits associated with gratitude. For example, spiritual individuals are more likely to feel a strong spiritual or emotional connection with others, and to believe in inter-connectedness. Both are prerequisites for feeling gratitude – someone who feels weak connections with others, and who believes in the illusion of self-sufficiency is unlikely to feel gratitude.

10. Gratitude makes us less self-centered.

I’ll be totally honest, I’m a self-centered twat. I’m a lot better now that I’ve brought gratitude into my life, but I still spend way too much time thinking about myself, and too little thinking about others. I expect this to change – because of my compassion and gratitude practices I am starting to have spontaneous urges to help others.

This is because the very nature of gratitude is to focus on others (on their acts of benevolence). In this regard, gratitude practice can be better than self-esteem therapy. Self-esteem therapy focuses the individual back on themselves: I’m smart, I look good, I can succeed, etc….

That can work, but it can also make us narcissistic or even back-fire and lower self-esteem.i1

11. Gratitude increases self-esteem.

Imagine a world where no one helps you. Despite your asking and pleading, no one helps you.

Now imagine a world where many people help you all of the time for no other reason than that they like you. In which world do you think you would have more self-esteem? Gratitude helps to create a world like that.

How does gratitude create a more supportive social dynamic?

Gratitude does this in two ways:

  1. Gratitude has been shown in multiple studies to make people kinder and more friendly, and that because of that, grateful people have more social capital. This means that grateful people are actually more likely to receive help from others for no reason other than that they are liked and appreciated.
  2. Gratitude increases your recognition of benevolence. For example, a person with low self-esteem may view an act of kindness with a skeptical eye, thinking that the benefactor is trying to get something from them. A grateful person would take the kindness at face value, believing themselves to be a person worthy of receiving no-strings-attached kindness.

12. Gratitude improves your sleep.

Gratitude increases sleep quality, reduces the time required to fall asleep, and increases sleep duration. Said differently, gratitude can help with insomnia.a2,j1

The key is what’s on our minds as we’re trying to fall asleep. If it’s worries about the kids, or anxiety about work, the level of stress in our body will increase, reducing sleep quality, keeping us awake, and cutting our sleep short.

If it’s thinking about a few things we have to be grateful for today, it will induce the relaxation response, knock us out, and keep us that way.

Yes – gratitude is a (safe and free) sleep aid.

I don’t believe you!

In one study of 65 subjects with a chronic pain condition, those who were assigned a daily gratitude journal to be completed at night reported half an hour more sleep than the control group.a2

In another study of 400 healthy people, those participants who had higher scores on a gratitude test also had significantly better sleep. They reported faster time to sleep, improved sleep quality, increased sleep duration, and less difficulty staying awake during the day.j1 This is not because their life was simply better – levels of gratitude are more dependent on personality and life perspective than on life situation.

13. Gratitude keeps you away from the doctor.

Gratitude can’t cure cancer (neither can positive-thinking), but it can strengthen your physiological functioning.

Positive emotion improves health. The details are complicated, but the overall picture is not – if you want to improve your health, improve your mind. This confidence comes from 137 research studies.

Gratitude is a positive emotion. It’s no far stretch that some of the benefits (e.g. better coping & management of terminal conditions like cancer and HIV,k1,k2 faster recovery from certain medical procedures, positive changes in immune system functioning,k3 more positive health behavior,k4,k5 etc…) apply to gratitude as well.

In fact, some recent science shows just that – those who engage in gratitude practices have been shown to feel less pain, go to the doctor less often, have lower blood pressure, and be less likely to develop a mental disorder.a1,a2,k6

How does gratitude improve my health?

The science on how is still unclear. Here are two ideas:

  • Gratitude reduces levels of stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Stress in turn has been shown to disrupt healthy body functioning (e.g disrupting the hypothalamic-pituitary axis, the immune system, our sleep, etc…).
  • Gratitude encourages pro-health behavior like exercising and paying attention to health risks.

14. Gratitude lets you live longer.

I will be honest with you – by combining the results of a few different studies I’m confident that gratitude can extend lifespan, but no single study as yet has actually proven this claim.

Here is what we know: optimism and positive emotion in general have been used to successfully predict mortality decades later.f2,f3,f4 The optimistic lived a few years longer than the pessimistic. A few years may not sound like much, but I know when I’m about to die I’d like to have a few more years!

We also know that gratitude is strongly correlated with positive emotion. So, gratitude –> positive emotion –> an extra few months or years on earth. With positive psychology research on the rise, I believe we can expect this claim to be rigorously tested within the next five to ten years.

15. Gratitude increase your energy levels.

Gratitude and vitality are strongly correlated – the grateful are much more likely to report physical and mental vigor.

Show me the data.

  • Study of 238 people found a correlation of .46 between vitality and gratitude.
  • Study of 1662 people found a correlation of .38 between vitality and gratitude. Same study found correlations above .3 even after controlling for the levels of: extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, and perceived social desirability.e2   This means that vitality and gratitude are strongly correlated even after considering the possibility that they are correlated because high-energy people and high-gratitude people share personality traits like extroversion in common.

Do people with more energy tend to experience more gratitude, does gratitude lead to increased energy, or is something else going on?

I believe it’s two of those three:

  1. People with high levels of vitality tend to have some of the same traits that highly grateful people do, like high levels of optimism and life satisfaction.
  2. Gratitude increases physical and mental well-being, which in turn increases energy levels.

16. Gratitude makes you more likely to exercise.

In one 11-week study of 96 Americans, those who were instructed to keep a weekly gratitude journal exercised 40 minutes more per week than the control group.a2 No other study has yet to replicate these results. It could be because other gratitude studies testing this effect have been much shorter – in the range of one to three weeks, or it could be because this result was a fluke.

Once again, time will tell – but it would not surprise me if being grateful for one’s health would increase one’s tendency to want to protect it by exercising more.

17. Gratitude helps us bounce back.

 
Those that have more gratitude have a more pro-active coping style, are more likely to have and seek out social support in times of need, are less likely to develop PTSD, and are more likely to grow in times of stress.b1,b2,d1

In others words, they are more resilient.
18. Gratitude makes us feel good.

Surprise, surprise: gratitude actually feels good. Yet only 20% of Americans rate gratitude as a positive and constructive emotion (compared to 50% of Europeans).l1

According to gratitude researcher Robert Emmons, gratitude is just happiness that we recognize after-the fact to have been caused by the kindness of others.  Gratitude doesn’t just make us happier, it is happiness in and of itself!

That’s no surprise – we idealize the illusion of self-sufficiency. Gratitude, pah! That’s for the weak.

F&ck no it’s not. Gratitude feels good, and if the benefits on this page are any indication – gratitude will make you stronger, healthier, and more successful.

Are you afraid to admit that luck, God, family members, friends, and/or strangers have and will continue to strongly influence your life? I once was – not only was I less happy, I was also weaker. It takes strength to admit to the truth of inter-dependency.

19. Gratitude makes our memories happier.

Our memories are not set in stone, like data stored on a hard-drive. There are dozens of ways our memories get changed over time – we remember things as being worse than they actually were, as being longer or shorter, people as being kinder or crueler, as being more or less interesting, and so on.

Experiencing gratitude in the present makes us more likely to remember positive memories,m1 and actually transforms some of our neutral or even negative memories into positive ones.m2 In one study, putting people into a grateful mood helped them find closure of upsetting open memories.m2 During these experiences, participants were more likely to recall positive aspects of the memory than usual, and some of the negative and neutral aspects were transformed into positives.

What’s going on with my memory!?

It’s called cognitive biases. Here are two great books on the subject: Thinking, Fast and Slow (written by the founder of behavioral economics, Daniel Kahneman), and Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me).

20. Gratitude reduces feelings of envy.

A small bit of jealousy or envy directed at the right target is motivating. Too much produces feelings of insecurity, materialism, inferiority, distrust, and unhappiness.

How does gratitude reduce feelings of envy?

The personality trait of envy has a correlation of -.39 with the personality trait of gratitude. In addition, on days when people experience more gratitude, they are also more likely to experience less envy.e2

This is likely because an attitude of envy and an attitude of gratitude are largely incompatible. Just like it is impossible to feel optimistic and pessimistic at the same time, gratitude is the act of perceiving benevolence, while envy and jealousy is the act of perceiving inadequacy. Benevolence and inadequacy cannot be completely perceived at the same time.

21. Gratitude helps us relax.

Gratitude and positive emotion in general are among the strongest relaxants known to man. I was having trouble sleeping a few nights ago because I was too stressed and couldn’t relax. I’ll be honest, for the few minutes that I was able to hold feelings of gratitude I almost fell asleep, but holding feelings of gratitude is hard! In this case, too hard – I ended up getting out of bed.

Gratitude may be just as or even more effective than relaxation methods such as deep breathing, but because it is also more difficult, is unfeasible as an actual relaxation technique. Think of it like tea – one or two cups help you relax – three of four make you want to empty your bladder.   But it could just be me. Perhaps you’ll find practices of gratitude more natural and easy.

22. Gratitude makes you friendlier.

Multiple studies have shown that gratitude induces pro-social behavior. Keeping a gratitude journal is enough to make you more likely to help others with their problems and makes you more likely to offer them emotional support.a2,b1

Why?

There are two main reasons.

  1. Gratitude helps us perceive kindness, which we have a natural tendency to want to reciprocate. Without the feeling of gratitude, we may not recognize when someone is helping us (the same way anger lets us know when someone is trying to harm us).
  2. Gratitude makes us happier and more energetic, both of which are highly linked to pro-social behavior.

23. Gratitude helps your marriage.

I’ve never been married, but from what I’ve heard, read, and seen, one way marriages start to suffer is that when the passion starts to fizzle, the partners become less appreciative and more naggy.

Scientists have put numbers to our intuition and experience, creating an appreciation to naggy ratio. More formally called the Losada ratio, it divides the total number of positive expressions (support, encouragement and appreciation) made during a typical interaction by the number of negative expressions (disapproval, sarcasm, and cynicism).

When the ratio was below .9, that is there were 11% more negative expressions than positive expressions, marriages plummeted towards divorce or languishment. Those marriages that lasted and were found satisfying were those with a positivity ratio above 5.1 (five positive expressions to each negative).s1

Building regular practices of gratitude into your marriage is an easy but effective way of raising your positivity ratio.

Correlation or causality?

Does the positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of a marriage, or does it simply reflect underlying happiness or conflict? Would ‘faking’ a higher positivity ratio actually change the dynamics of your marriage, or would it be the same as faking your income on a survey – it may let you temporarily feel better, but it doesn’t actually make you any richer?

There is reason to believe it is both. What we say and how we act becomes who we are. Faking a smile has been shown to actually make people happier. But the effect is only so strong. I believe that for gratitude to truly effect a marriage, it must come from the heart. With enough practice and effort, it can.

P.S. You shouldn’t take the numbers too literally. A good rule of thumb is three or four positives for each negative means you’re doing well.

24. Gratitude makes you look good.

Ingratitude is universally regarded with contempt.  It’s opposite, gratitude, is considered a virtue in all major religions and most modern cultures. It may not be sexy to be grateful, but people will respect you for it.

Gratitude is not the same thing as indebtedness, which we rightly avoid. Indebtedness is a negative emotion which carries an assumption of repayment.

Gratitude is not the same thing as weakness. Weakness is flattery or subservience.

Gratitude is the acknowledgment of kindness with thanks.

It takes big balls to acknowledge that we didn’t get to where we are all on our own – that without others we may never have made it. That’s why, just maybe, gratitude may be sexy too.

25. Gratitude helps you make friends.

When I was in college I found it really easy to make new friends. If I hadn’t moved out of NYC it would still be easy – living in a farm town makes it difficult. I’ve found an effective way to start a conversation or move a relationship forward is an expression of gratitude, “thank you for that coffee, it was super delicious.” *wink, wink*

Ah, my mistake – that’s actually what I use to hit on my barista.

But you get the point.

26. Gratitude deepens friendships.

I have one friend who always deeply thanks me for taking the time to see her. That makes me feel appreciated and that makes me feel good. Wouldn’t it make you feel good too?

27. Gratitude makes you a more effective manager.

Effective management requires a toolbox of skills. Criticism comes all too easily to most, while the ability to feel gratitude and express praise is often lacking.

Timely, sincere, specific, behavior focused praise is often a more powerful method of influencing change than criticism. Specifically, multiple studies have found expressions of gratitude to be highly motivating, while expressions of criticism to be slightly de-motivating but providing more expectation clarification.t1,t2

Contrary to expectation, if praise is moderate and behavior focused, repeat expressions of gratitude will not lose their impact, and employee performance will increase.2

Because of our culture, expressions of gratitude are often difficult to give – cultivating an attitude of gratitude will help.

I’ve seen firsthand the powerful difference between interacting with subordinates more with praise, and interacting with some more with criticism. Those I’ve given more praise are more enthusiastic about working with me, express more creativity, and are so much more fun to work with

28. Gratitude helps you network.

Gratitude has been shown across a number of studies to increase social behavior. Two longitudinal studies showed that those with higher levels of gratitude actually developed more social capital than those with lower levels.

Gratitude helps you get mentors, proteges, and benefactors.

Those who are more grateful are more likely to help others, and to pay it forward, that is, to take on mentoring relationships. But I’m guessing you care more about getting help from mentors and benefactors than being a mentor yourself. Well, that makes sense – having one or more mentors dramatically increases one’s success rate.

The first level is simple – those who are grateful are more social and also more likely to ask for help. But it goes one step further – we all ask for help at one time, one of the key differences between one-off help and establishing a mentoring relationship is gratitude.

Flipped around, what is it that makes a person want to help you on a continuous basis? Gratitude – when their wisdom, experience, and time are well appreciated, mentors will find enjoyment from the process, continuing to help you for weeks, months, or years.

29. Gratitude increases your goal achievement.

In one study, participants were asked to write down those goals which they wished to accomplish over the next two months. Those who were instructed to keep a gratitude journal reported more progress on achieving their goals at the end of the study. One result doesn’t make science – what you should take away from this is that, at the least, gratitude will not make you lazy and passive. It might even do the opposite!

30. Gratitude improves your decision making.

Decision making is really tiring – so tiring that we automate to our subconscious much of the reasoning that goes behind making a decision. Even for the most basic of decisions, like where to go eat, there are dozens of variables to consider: how much time and money do I want to spend, what cuisine would I like today, am I willing to travel far, what should I get once I get there, and so on. If you deliberated on each of these decisions one at a time, your mind would be overwhelmed.

The problem gets even worse for more complex decisions like making a diagnosis.

In one study, doctors were given a list of ailments from a hypothetical patient and also given a misleading piece of information—that the patient had been diagnosed at another hospital as having lupus. Half the doctors had gratitude evoked by giving them a token of appreciation. Those who did not receive a token of appreciation were more likely to stick with the incorrect diagnosis of lupus; those who did receive the gratitude were energized to expend more energy and to pay their gratitude forward onto their patient. They also considered a wider range of treatment options.

The above study shows that gratitude motivates improved decision making. Those who cultivate an attitude of gratitude find tokens of appreciation every day, on their own.

31. Gratitude increases your productivity.

Those who are insecure have difficulty focusing because many of their mental resources are tied up with their worries. On the other hand, those who are highly confident are able to be more productive, because they can direct more of their focus towards their work. This operates at both a conscious and subconscious level – we may be getting mentally distracted by our worries, or more commonly, parts of our subconscious mind are expending energy to suppress negative information and concerns.z1

As gratitude has been shown to increase self-esteem and reduce insecurity, this means that it can help us focus and improve our productivity.

Gratitude is no cure-all, but it is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness.

References

a1. Positive Psychology Progress (2005, Seligman, M. P., Steen, T. A., Park, N., & Peterson, C.)
a2. Counting Blessings Versus Burdens: An Experimental Investigation of Gratitude and Subjective Well-Being in Daily Life
a3. Gratitude Uniquely Predicts Satisfaction with Life: Incremental Validity Above the Domains and Facets of the Five Factor Model
a4. Sacks, D. W., Stevenson, B., & Wolfers, J. (2012). The new stylized facts about income and subjective well-being. Emotion, 12(6), 1181.
b1. The Role of Gratitude in The Development of Social Support, Stress, and Depression: Two Longitudinal Studies
b2. Why Gratitude Enhances Well-Being: What We Know, What We Need to Know
c1. Stone, D. I., & Stone, E. F. (1983). The Effects of Feedback Favorability and Feedback Consistency. Academy Of Management Proceedings (00650668), 178-182. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.1983.4976341
c2. Jaworski, B. J., & Kohl, A. K. (1991). Supervisory Feedback: Alternative Types and Their Impact on Salespeople’s Performance and Satisfaction. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 28(2), 190-201.
c3. This number has been floating around the internet, but I was actually unable to find the original source. It may be wrong, or I may not have looked in the right places.
d1. Coping Style as a Psychological Resource of Grateful People
d2. Positive Responses to Benefit and Harm: Bringing Forgiveness and Gratitude into Cognitive Psychotherapy
d3. Gratitude in Intermediate Affective Terrain: Links of Grateful Moods to Individual Differences and Daily Emotional Experience
e1. Is Gratitude an Alternative to Materialism?
e2. The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography
f1. C. Peterson, L. Bossio. “Optimism and Physical Wellbeing.” Optimism & Pessimism: Implications for Theory, Research, and Practice. Ed. E. Chang. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001: 127-145.
f2. Positive Emotions in Early Life and Longevity: Findings From The Nun Study
f3. Optimistics vs. Pessimists Survival Rate Among Medical Patients Over a 30-Year Period
f4. Prediction of All-Cause Mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale Scores: Study of a College Sample During a 40-Year Follow-up Period.
g1. Kashdan, T. B., & Breen, W. E. (2007). MATERIALISM AND DIMINISHED WELL-BEING: EXPERIENTIAL AVOIDANCE AS A MEDIATING MECHANISM. Journal Of Social & Clinical Psychology, 26(5), 521-539.
g2. Belk , R. W. ( 1985 ). Materialism: Trait aspects of living in the material world . Journal of Consumer Research, 12, 265 – 280
g3. Sheldon , K. M. , & Kasser , T. ( 1995 ). Coherence and congruence: Two aspects of personality integration . Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68, 531 543 .
h1. Emmons RA, Crumpler CA. Gratitude as human strength: Appraising the evidence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. 2000;19:849–857.
i1. Spinney, L. (2012). All about ME. New Scientist, 214(2862), 44-47.
j1. Gratitude Influences Sleep Through the Mechanism of Pre-Sleep Cognitions
k1. Benight C, Bandura A. Social cognitive theory of posttraumatic recovery: The role of perceived self efficacy. Behav Res Ther. 2004; 42(10): 1129–1148 [serial online].
k2. Stanton A, Snider P. Coping with a breast cancer diagnosis: A prospective study. Health Psychol. 1993; 12(1): 16–23 [serial online].
k3. Segerstrom S, Taylor S, Kemeny M, Fahey J. Optimism is associated with mood, coping and immune change in response to stress. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1998; 74(6): 1646–1655 [serial online].
k4. Taylor SE, Kemeny ME, Aspinwall LG, Schneider SG, Rodriguez R, Herbert M. Optimism, coping, psychological distress, and high-risk sexual behavior among men at risk for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). J Pers Soc Psychol. 1992; 63: 460–473.
k5. Giltay EJ, Geleijnse JM, Zitman FG, Buijsse B, Kromhout D. Lifestyle and dietary correlates of dispositional optimism in men: The Zutphen Elderly Study. J Psychosom Res. 2007; 63: 483–490.
k6. Gratitude: Effects on Perspective and Blood Pressure (2007)
l1. Emotion and Social Context: An American—German Comparison
m1. Watkins, P.C., D.L. Grimm and R. Kolts: 2004, #Counting your blessings:
Positive memories among grateful persons#, Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social 23, pp. 52–67.
m2. Watkins, P. C., Cruz, L., Holben, H., & Kolts, R. L. (2008). Taking Care of Business? Grateful Processing of Unpleasant Memories. Journal of Positive Psychology, 3, 87-99.
s1. Fredrickson, B. L., & Losada, M. F. (2005). Positive Affect and the Complex Dynamics of Human Flourishing. American Psychologist, 60(7), 678-686. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.60.7.678
t1. Stone, D. I., & Stone, E. F. (1983). The Effects of Feedback Favorability and Feedback Consistency. Academy Of Management Proceedings (00650668), 178-182. doi:10.5465/AMBPP.1983.4976341
t2. Jaworski, B. J., & Kohl, A. K. (1991). Supervisory Feedback: Alternative Types and Their Impact on Salespeople’s Performance and Satisfaction.  Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 28(2), 190-201.
z1. What Neuroscience Reveals about the Nature of Business. Jeffrey L. Fannin, Ph.D. and Robert M. Williams, M.A.

Today’s article was written by Amit Amin and is shared from the following website: http://happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude/

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A Thanksgiving Parable

One can never pay in Gratitude, one can only pay ‘in kind”somewhere else in life Anne Morrow LindberghA Thanksgiving Parable by M. Stanley Bubien

I draw a distinction between a “story” and a “parable.” Stories should tell the tale, but it’s up to the reader to decipher any (or unintended) meaning. The author seldom explains the story.

A parable, on the other hand, tells a tale, certainly, but one that deserves (if not begs) an explanation—in some ways, the explanation itself is a part of the tale. In the Bible, for example, Jesus told parables, and their significance, their power, grew not just from the telling, but from the explanation and application.

Parables also have one particular meaning, while stories can live and breath meaning, changing with each reader, or with each reading.

There once was a very rich man. He was so rich, he could have owned many cars, but instead he chose to drive a Ford. He was so rich, he could have owned many computers, but instead he chose an Apple Macintosh. He was so rich, he could have owned many homes—even some in Beverly Hills—but instead he chose to live in East LA.

Because this man was rich, many people in his neighborhood knew him. And also because the man was rich, many people from outside of his neighborhood knew him too. Often, his doorbell would ring, and there on his threshold would stand someone who had come to ask for a donation.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a neighbor who had fallen into misfortune. The man would smile, embrace his neighbor, and place a generous sum into their hand.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a charity representing the starving children of Tijuana. The man would again smile, embrace the charity worker, and write a generous check.

Sometimes when the bell rang, it was a Jehovah’s Witness. Were he like many of us, the man’s first instinct would have been to promptly kick them in the butt and shove them back out onto the street. But instead, he once more smiled and embraced the Jehovah’s Witness as any other guest upon his threshold.

One evening, when his doorbell was particularly quiet, this man decided to take a stroll. He headed off, idling along wherever the road wound; amongst the quaint homes of his neighborhood, past the threadbare trees lining the park, along walls painted with an array of colorful graffiti tags (remember, this was East LA).

Every once in a while, a car passed, thumping out the latest rage in rap hit, and he soon found himself whistling one of these catchy tunes to himself.

Lost in the tune, he came suddenly upon a homeless bum lying in the midst of the sidewalk. The bum wore a tattered sweater and ripped pants. He had shoes, but they didn’t even match. And oh! The smell! I can’t even describe that to you here because it would ruin your Thanksgiving dinner.

Well, this unfortunate soul lying on the street saw the man and knew him. Certainly, the bum said to himself. This is the rich man who lives on the lane. Surely he can help me, for he has money at his disposal. But instead of reaching out his hand, the bum was overcome by a sudden bout of shame and hid his face.

The man stood over this tattered figure. He reached down and touched the bum’s cheek, but the bum shrank away from him even further. The man’s eyes clouded slightly and he cracked a weak smile. Forgetting the tune he once whistled, the man slowly turned and walked back to his home.

Upon hearing the man retreat beyond the corner, the bum opened his eyes and sat up. There at his feet lay a crisp $100.00 dollar bill.

The bum grabbed the money and made a beeline for the nearest 7/11. Like all bums, this one’s first thought was to go blow the money on vodka. What a bum!

But, before he entered the store, he remembered the compassion of the man’s touch. This inspired him, and the bum decided then and there to turn his life around. The bum promptly bummed two dimes off an old lady (pay phones don’t take hundreds). “Well.” the lady replied. “You ain’t gonna spend this on alcohol?” The bum shook his head and stuck the money into the slot of the nearest telephone.

His broker answered and the bum said, “Hundred dollars. Invest it all in that company with the nerdy looking CEO. Microsoft!”

Since this was, as it turns out, the late-1980s, it took only a short while before the stock skyrocketed. Yes, good can come of evil after all—especially when you’re working the stock market—and the bum found himself very well off indeed.

Back in East LA the years passed slowly. The generous man kept to life much as usual—taking evening strolls, whistling rap tunes, answering his door.

One day in particular, his doorbell rang, and there stood a finely dressed gentleman in a three piece suit. Uh oh, the man thought. Jehovah’s Witness. But before he could do anything, his guest spoke.

“You’re the rich man, aren’t you?” his guest asked.

“What can I do for you?” the man responded automatically, so accustomed to being asked for things.

“It is not what you can do for me,” answered his guest. “But what you have already done.”

“What have I done for you?” the man asked in surprise.

“You’ve given me a second chance at life. Why, with your generous gift, I was able to invest the money and pull myself out of my poverty. I no longer wallow in the grime and gutters, but I walk along crowded sidewalks with my head held high. I have you to thank for that.”

Suddenly, the man recognized his guest. It was the old bum who’d been lying in the street. The man replied, “What I gave you, you did not ask for. I gave it simply because I saw you there and loved you. I would have given it to anyone in your position.”

“All the more reason to come and thank you,” his guest said.

“But I am rich,” replied the man. “I have many gifts to give. I don’t expect anything in return.”

“Good,” his guest said with a nod. “Because I don’t have anything to offer in return—whatever I have, you gave to me. All I wanted to do was come and thank you.”

The man stared as his guest reached out and took him into an embrace. It was the same gesture the man had so often offered to those at his door, yet this was the first time someone had offered it back.

Tears filled the man’s eyes as his guest, a lowly bum off the street, held him in the most satisfying embrace he had ever received. 

The Rich Man is God, while the Poor Man is you or me. God has given us everything we have. He created us. He gave us life (and life again). He gave us love. He gave us talents to do things. All we have springs from what He’s given us.

What can we give God back to show our grattitude? What can we return to Him that he hasn’t given us already? There is only one thing. Our thanks. Our thanks is the only gift we can give to God that he hasn’t given us in the first place.

This parable was written by M. Stanley Bubien and is shared from the following website: http://www.storybytes.com/view-stories/1996/parable-thanks.html

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