Gratitude 106

Remember back in Gratitude 101; I gave you the definition of gratitude?

“To show appreciation for and to return kindness.”

I will add to this with “to return kindness or pay it forward.”

We talked about feeling gratitude in Gratitude 102, then about expressing gratitude, and how it is scientifically proven to make you feel better with the release of oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) in the body.

Scientifically, gratitude, and its effects on the brain and body remain relatively new.  Some show increases in gray matter volume in the right inferior temporal gyrus and posteromedial cortices (Zahn et al., 2014)[1].  Another study shows increased levels of oxytocin, sometimes called the Love hormone (Algoe and Way, 2014)[2].

We also talked about how gratitude can improve your health, relationships, and life in general when you begin to express it — Gratitude 103.

Then I began to talk about living my gratitude without fully understanding what that meant. I thought I was still at the stage of expressing my thanks with words only. Yes, I was overthinking it, making it hard when it isn’t hard at all. For some, it comes naturally.  When it came time to explain it, I made it hard because I am more likely to live my gratitude. Yes, I express it and feel it, but my main expression of gratitude is ‘giving back – taking action.’

I was also comparing my actions to Guruji Mahendra Trivedi. I listened to him talk about gratitude. I read research studies. I read the articles written by others – some very good. I wanted to understand why gratitude made a big difference in my life. I didn’t understand it until I thought back on times I fell out of gratitude. Falling out of gratitude means falling out of Grace.  These are tied together: Grace, Love, Gratitude, Respect, and Creator. My understanding of this is; If you pull the thread of one, it all unravels.

Guruji Mahendra Trivedi is enlightened. I watched Mahendra Trivedi live his gratitude on a level I can only strive to reach. Comparing myself to Guruji – huge mistake. My consciousness is far below Mahendra Trivedi’s, but I am committed to my growth. Learning from a Guru is one of the ways to transform. Doing the work is another aspect. Expressing gratitude through action is another. There are more, but to be grateful and act on it is very important.

Giving back or paying it forward means taking action to give or do or help without being asked. Gratitude equals action. It is so simple.

For example:

You are at a friend’s home. The friend is cooking dinner. How do you express your gratitude for a wonderful meal?

Do you help cook?

Do you help with the groceries?

Do you bring drinks or dessert?

Do you help with the dishes and clean up?

Or do you say thank you and leave it at that?

While it is nice to say thank you, it is more meaningful to do something equivalent to express your gratitude to the person who did the cooking or the act performed for your benefit.

Living gratitude means taking action to show your appreciation, not only saying thank you. Living your gratitude is a step toward transformation. With transformation, those health and relationship benefits we talk about being attached to gratitude, don’t fade away but become a part of your wholeness and life expression.

Another example:

When I go to visit my mom, I don’t just say the words ‘thank you.’

I do things around the house she has trouble doing for herself. I plant herbs in her herb tree, clean out the refrigerator, dust, or burn the trash. I perform the needed task. If I drive into town, I bring back dinner or groceries and call to be sure I don’t miss anything. This involves caring. Without caring, there is no gratitude.

My brother shows his gratitude by keeping the yard mowed and trimmed. And, by cooking crawfish for us to tackle by the plateful. He is even thoughtful enough to shell them for mom.

We each have opportunities each day to show our gratitude with actions. The more we do this, the more it can lead to a transformation on some level or in some area of our lives.

Are we living in gratitude if we only do something for someone after the fact?

I say no. You may disagree with me, that is fine, but no. If you care and truly feel gratitude for anything: life, love, health, money in the bank, the beauty surrounding us, then the small acts of kindness or caring become expressions of gratitude to the Creator. Gratitude equals Action!

Gratitude on this level can lead to joy – to happiness – to transformation.

[1] Zahn, R., Moll, J., Paiva, M., Garrido, G., Krueger, F., Huey, E., et al. (2008). The neural basis of human social values: evidence from functional mri. Cereb. Cortex. 19, 276–283. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhn080

[2] lgoe, S. B., and Way, B. (2014). Evidence for a role of the oxytocin system, indexed by genetic variation in cd38, in the social bonding effects of expressed gratitude. Soc. Cogn. Affect. Neurosci. 12:nst182. doi: 10.1093/scan/nst182

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