Gratitude journals and gratitude letters are trendy these days. Oprah’s doing it. Corporate gurus do it. There’s an iPhone app for it. There are a host of self-help books and a panoply of self-help systems devoted to it. But, despite the “commercialization of gratitude,” the sentiment remains crucial to our well-being.
A widely cited series of studies conducted by psychologist Robert Emmons, who calls his research the “project on gratitude and thankfulness,” shows that writing regularly in a gratitude journal actually improves people’s well-being. According to Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of the self-help book Simple Abundance, a gratitude journal allows you to focus on the abundance in your life. Without trying to sound too much like Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts” parody of self help, this is a life-lesson we all need.
The influence of gratitude on a healthy sense of self is something long known by recovering alcoholics, who often hold “gratitude” meetings. As Bill W., founder of AA, puts it:
Another exercise that I practice is to try for a full inventory of my blessings and then for a right acceptance of the many gifts that are mine — both temporal and spiritual. . . I try to hold fast to the truth that a full and thankful heart cannot entertain great conceits. When brimming with gratitude, one’s heartbeat must surely result in outgoing love, the finest emotion that we can ever know.
In other words, counting our blessings keeps us both humble and spiritually wealthy.
Taking a gratitude inventory is not the sole province of recovering alcoholics, though. Expressing gratitude forces us to recognize and appreciate what we have rather than focus on what we don’t have. An old proverb states, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” In a culture of rampant greed and commercialism, taking stock of the blessings in our lives is a form of spiritual resistance.
First and foremost, this site does not sell anything, promote anything, or advance any political or religious affiliation. It is a commercial-free space for people to reflect on what they have in their lives.
Please feel free to write about your own gratitude and post it to the list. To make a post, simply fill out the form on the “Share Your Gratitude” page. You can read more about what inspired the list on the “About” page.
Praise the bridge that carried you over.
--George Coleman (British playwright, 1762-1836)
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
--Albert Einstein (physicist, 1879-1955)