With Lots of Help from Our Friends

Gratitude is both a powerful sentiment and action-inspiring virtue. But too often we assume that others know that their efforts or labor are appreciated. We take employees, volunteers, supporters and even loved ones for granted. A fellow lawyer by the name of Cicero once wrote, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.”

When we take the time to express gratitude for a job well done, support that was provided “just in time,” or the kindness of a stranger, it evokes powerful feelings. And some experts suggest that gratitude may be good for our physical as well as our mental health. In their book Simple Meditation & Relaxation, Joel and Michelle Levey write:

“Both ancient teachings and modern medical research agree that one of the quickest, most direct routes to restoring harmony and balance in our lives is to foster gratitude and appreciation. The moment you shift from a mind-state of negativity or judgment to one of appreciation, there are immediate effects at many levels of your being: brain function becomes more balanced, harmonized, and supple; your heart begins to pump in a much more coherent and harmonious rhythm; and biochemical changes trigger a host of healthful balancing reactions throughout your body.”

Gratitude may also be helpful in dealing with fear. As the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11 approach, many Americans are feeling (and some are expressing) renewed fear about their personal safety. In his article titled “Ten Inner Tips for Coping with the Stress of War and Terrorism,” Bryan Brewer of Self-Guided.com encourages readers to “Express gratitude as a powerful antidote to fear.” He writes:

“When you give thanks, it is difficult to also feel fear at the same time. A heartfelt sense of appreciation that connects you with what is good and right in your life will help restore harmony and balance in both your mind and your body. Remember to be thankful for the many blessings already present in your life.”

Whether you see gratitude as a powerful sentiment, a positive emotion, an attitude or a virtue, remember that expressing sincere thankfulness and appreciation touches both the giver and the recipient. Gratitude may be the ultimate “gift that keeps on giving.”

Melanie Lockwood Herman