When you look up the definition of “gratitude” it says: “The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
It’s not just the quality of being thankful. The definition goes further to say that it’s also the readiness to show appreciation and to RETURN KINDNESS – it’s a call to action!
I believe that most of us miss the mark of the full meaning of gratitude and stop short of the action part of the definition. It’s not just the quality of being thankful, though that is the first step in the equation.
Let’s take a look at the “readiness to show appreciation” part of the definition. The word “readiness” implies that work has been done on your part. Let’s say that you’re a student and you are about to take an examination. If you have done your work, studied, and then show up to take the test, then you are showing up with “readiness” and you’ll most likely score well. If you didn’t do your work and you didn’t study then it’s safe to assume that you’re not READY for the exam.
So when we do our own work, our personal development work, and we show up in a state or quality of thankfulness we show up with a mindset that is ready to show appreciation; and then returning kindness will come easily because we are embodying the fullness of the thankful feelings that become gratitude.
So many times in our lives it can take a life altering event or tragedy to bring things into clarity for us to realize our gratitude and make us willing to be ready to show appreciation and to return kindness. In the span of five years I lost six people who were very dear to me. My maternal grandmother passed away and one month later my mother committed suicide. The next year my paternal grandmother passed away and then my father unexpectedly had a heart attack and died. Most recently my brother and grandfather passed away both unexpectedly. With all of that loss, gratitude is ushered in without much prompt because it forces you to take inventory on what is truly important. But it shouldn’t have to be that way. We are all given so many blessings that we often take for granted because society has conditioned us to see more the problem than the solution; to focus more on what’s going wrong than appreciating what’s going right.
But, What if we could live in such a way that our eyes saw the silver lining when others saw the storm cloud?
What if we looked for the lessons in the conflicts and even were thankful for the growth that they held for us? What if you could live each day with the joy and peace that comes from true gratitude – that quality of being thankful and showing appreciation and giving kindness in return for the blessings in our lives?
I believe we can. This week let’s make it our intention to truly take in the abundance of blessings that have been bestowed on us. Let’s allow that recognition to place us in the quality of being thankful. Let’s move in that thankfulness to a place of openness and readiness to show appreciation and to return kindness to all we meet out of sheer appreciation. Let’s fully embody and step into what it really means to be grateful.