We all have good and bad days. There are moments or periods in which we don’t find the right rhythm, we are anxious, or we are emotionally down or depressed. Faced with these situations, we often look for ways to find happiness or to restore our personal emotional balance.
It has been shown that, to achieve happiness, the secret is to bring together a set of elements in our inner and outer world. It is not an easy road. We must work hard to achieve happiness.
A way to start (or continue) this journey is to rely on a very useful and enriching factor which at times we can forget: gratitude.
When did we stop saying thank you?
We must be aware of the power of words. It is important to know how to grant them their moment, their tone, their emphasis, their place and their sincerity. We don't always choose well, even if we have the best intentions.
"So great is the pleasure in finding a grateful man…"
Have you ever thought of thanking in a special way? Why don't we sometimes say thank you? Is it the same to say thank you and to be grateful?
"Thank you." Eight very united letters that have the power to be at the two extremes of emotion. On the one hand, the automatic formality and, on the other, two words with the most heartfelt meaning.
We hand out these words right and left. In practice, we give them as a gift, daily and to complete strangers. We are brought up to use the formal recognition established by social rules. "Thank you for coming," "thank you for participating," "thanks for dinner," "thanks for the invitation" ... All of these expressions are formal or informal ways to say thanks and vary in the amount of attention that they receive from the recipient.
Usually, we use “thank you” for communicating socially. A "thank you" can open doors, bring us closer to others and encourage our integration into the group. Nevertheless, there is another kind of "thank you." One that we use much less. One that unites parents, friends, relatives, or special acquaintances that are part of our life.
It is then that we can speak of sincere gratitude.
Here we are not talking about automatic formalities and behaviors. We are not talking about saying "thank you" to people seeking our gratitude for their work.
We are talking about looking around us right now, or looking back to the past, and identifying the people who helped us without expecting anything in return.
Sometimes they even helped us without knowing it, but they still made a big difference in our lives.
That coach who went far beyond the call of duty to help us overcome obstacles, to nurture our talents, to help us when we faced challenges. Thanks to the teachers, we discovered the love for books, for history or for mathematics. That relative who gave us the best summers of our lives, in the most natural way possible, and which we remember with affection.
"Gratitude in silence is of no use to anyone."
To thank means to come into contact with one's own emotions and share them with others.
Being grateful helps us to:
Martin Seligman is one of the most famous modern psychologists. He was the promoter of positive psychology, which deals with the scientific studies of the emotions and positive qualities of the human being.
Together with Peterson, he created a questionnaire that was intended to capture and classify strengths and virtues that could make us achieve a better quality of life.
Not only were they based on current research, but they also studied ancient philosophy and texts from all cultures and religions of the five continents.
From all this, they have drawn some common elements.
One of the general categories, defined with the name of "Transcendence" (which contains the strengths that give meaning to life and which bring us into contact with the environment that surrounds us and with universal emotions), includes gratitude.
Transcendence has been defined as "being conscious of and grateful for the good things that happen to us, as well as knowing how to say thank you."
There are many barriers that prevent us from activating our gratitude. The fear of what others will say, the feeling that it is too late now, a bit of self- doubt, the thought that we might even offend someone or just plain shyness.
But…the effect is so positive that if we have something in mind, we shouldn't hesitate to try and say it.
To get started, we can practice identifying the things for which we are truly grateful.
Every day or once a week, take a few minutes to identify the things for which you are grateful. This will also help to give perspective as you reflect on the actions, situations, and people that are a source of tranquility and positivity in your life.
And above all, write a letter to someone from your past to whom you want to say thank you for something. It doesn’t need to be something huge, it can also be something that appears trivial to others. One can be grateful for everyday life, for attention, gestures, events, discoveries ...
Think of someone and take your time, order the ideas you want to express and write them down. It's up to you how to deliver it. Delivering it in person or reading it directly. A piece of advice? The best experience is to read it aloud and talk about it.
Beyond those eight letters are experience and emotion. Discover the best way for you, receive, and enjoy gratitude. It is one of the safest ways to find gratification and recover our place and our identity.
Sharing something like this silently helps us get in touch with our positive emotions and adds an extra stone to the road we build, step by step, towards happiness.
"Gratitude is the only secret that cannot be revealed on its own."
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