Which is where gratitude comes in. We need a major attitude shift if we are to create healthier relationships, more inner serenity, fulfillment and meaningful lives. Cicero once wrote, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Gratitude paves the way for a host of other very positive qualities to emerge.
How we can cultivate more of this wonderful quality within ourselves and others? We can begin by starting a Gratitude Journal, writing down all things, both great and small, that we are grateful for in our life. Nothing is too small or insignificant to be included, because the scale of gratitude knows no bounds. You can be as grateful for the flower that bloomed today as for the home you live in, the health of your family, and the look in your dog’s eye when you come home. Review your list daily.
In terms of our relationships, we tend to take our spouses, lovers, significant others and friends for granted. There is no greater gift than to tell a loved one how much you appreciate their presence in your life. Countless times while working with couples we have seen resentment and anger melt away in the presence of sincere gratitude and appreciation. Call a friend or relative, or write a letter to let someone know what they mean to you, even if they are healthy and not in crisis. It’s also a wonderful practice to have an entire family express gratitude together on a regular basis; the earlier children start the greater their capacity for gratitude becomes.
The consistent practice of expressing gratitude also reminds us that we do not live alone; we survive only because we are constantly receiving goods from people, from nature, and from spirit. Gratitude helps us to be more aware of the many things that we receive from other people, and realize that our lives depend on the perpetual giving of others, and we feel a deeper responsibility to give more of ourselves. Albert Einstein said, “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depends on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving”.
In closing, here’s a wonderful quote by Melody Beattie:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today,
and creates a vision for tomorrow.”