“Gratitude, with a capital G. The word should resonate as holy (which has the same root as healthy, and means whole), for without it, boredom prevails. With it, you acknowledge and appreciate life’s gifts. This embodiment extends beyond your attitude to become an actual personality trait, a stress management took, an an overall way of life. You live in gratitude because you are here today—appreciative of the lessons and journey of your past, however imperfect—for no other particular reason or caveat. And you remain in gratitude through the daily struggles that give meaning and richness to your life.
Our ancestors devised animism and deities to thank for the bounties in nature. More recently in our history, tribal societies such as the Native Americans and the !Kung Bushmen of southern Africa thank the animal’s spirit for providing sustenance after it has been killed. If daily prayer or weekly services have a place in your life, you may be familiar with similar themes. But don’t overlook other modest ways to show gratitude in your day-to-day life. Giving yourself the luxury of a warm bath, making a phone call to Grandma, or presenting a home-cooked meal to your family all count, too, if your intention is in the right place.
When you practice an attitude of gratitude, you appreciate what you have, not envy what you lack. It means you’re a good steward. You nourish and exercise your body and mind, cherish and respect your spouse, love your dog, keep your home clean and orderly, encourage your children. If you water your garden, you’ll watch it grow….
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the science: University of California, Davis professor Robert Emmons, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Positive Psychology and author of Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier, believes that living in gratitude is the single quickest and most efficient pathway to becoming happier. Yes, Emmons and other leaders in the burgeoning field of positive psychology can actually quantify this stuff, asserting that while familial genetics plays a large role in longevity, researchers have amassed significant data suggesting that up to 75 percent of longevity is related to psychological and behavioral factors. Emmons notes that chronically angry, depressed, or pessimistic people have long been observed to have an increased disease risk and shorter life spans. However, those who kept a simple ‘gratitude journal’ for three weeks or longer reported better sleep, increased energy, heightened creativity, enthusiasm, determination, and optimism…and an increased desire for exercise. Now that’s something to be grateful for!”
From The Primal Connection, pgs. 68-69