Gratitude is one of those emotions that is regularly overlooked in our busy, overworked lives. Often gratitude seems so obvious and simplistic that we tend to forget it is there. Yet it can transform our lives and the lives of others if we simply pull it out of the bottom drawer of our minds and let it do its magical work.
The beauty of gratitude is that it positively impacts the body and heart of the giver as well as the receiver. Try it and see. When we spontaneously express gratitude or appreciation to another person it can literally transform a relationship. The transformation begins when you have the thought of gratitude in your mind and your brain translates that feeling into beneficial neurological changes in your body. The feeling of gratitude also expands the hearts of both the giver and receiver, which has the effect of building the relationship and even erasing old grievances and soothing resentment.
Gratitude can be especially beneficial to a person when it does not involve anyone else in particular, but is rather a sudden realisation of what we ourselves are blessed with.
Genuine happiness in Tanzania
On a recent trip to Tanzania with my family, we went to see a Maasai village. This visit helped us all to reconsider our lives and realise what we take for granted. Here was a community of people in 2015 that was still living in mud huts with no electricity, no proper schooling for the children, not even any running water. The daily staple diet consisted of the meat, milk and blood of goats. The people worked all day out in the blazing sun, tending to their precious cows and goats.
The biggest eye-opener for my children was the fact that the people managed without the internet!
This was far from some sort of touristy, fact-finding visit for me. As we were warmly welcomed into their community, it struck me forcibly that everyone there seemed genuinely happy with their lives.
The fact that they did not have many of the luxuries we take for granted was not a problem because they were unaware of them. We who have so much often struggle and are resentful as we compare what we have with what other people have and own. No matter what we have, or do not have, we still need to have grateful hearts.
We also need to express that gratitude to those near and dear to us. Last month, a friend of mine suffered the trauma of losing a dear friend at the age of forty-eight to cancer. She sent me a message saying how grateful she was to have me in her life, but at the same time she felt sad because she had never got round to telling her now-departed friend how special she was.
So don’t delay – tell important people in your life how important they are to you and why.
After my Maasai experience and after hearing of my friend’s sadness at her loss, I will remember to be grateful for what I have and also to express gratitude to others whenever I can. If we all do that, our lives will become richer in so many ways.