As November approaches, we are entering a month where we focus on gratitude and giving thanks to those around us. A time of embracing family and being nostalgic. Gratitude is very much a spiritual benefit that enhances our mood, allows us to take account of our blessings as well as enables us to see hardships as lessons. This type of perspective encourages positivity and a greater quality of life. Our perspective is our reality. A grateful perspective is one that helps us on our path of spiritual awakening and appreciation.
Gratefulness Improves our Moods
As an advocate for positive psychology, I see the benefit of gratefulness as part of a healing process as well as an everyday lifestyle. It employs an element of optimism and happiness. Instead of seeing the pantry as half-empty, choose to see it as half-full and say THANK YOU to whatever your higher power may be. Be grateful and optimistic instead of negative and pessimistic. As a Muslim, we would say Alhamdulillah which means all thanks and praise to God. (fun tidbit, many Arab Christians say the same expression as it is the same God) If you are a spiritual person without a set religion, take some time to sit in reflection and think about how grateful you are for the food in your pantry and the roof above your head. These are the beginning steps towards working for self-actualization and happiness. Appreciate even the smallest things.
Let’s look at an example using a clinical setting and healing path. We know that our country is facing an opioid crisis. A recovering opioid addict faces a battle within themselves. They must triumph over their own desires and the difficulty of detoxing. They can choose to take on the perspective of “this is so hard, they have so many rules here, how will I ever cope” OR “I am blessed to have a good therapy program, the rules help me find stability, I am grateful for this opportunity to change my life.” When we show gratitude we place more value on what is occurring, the more we value something the more of an investment we will make.
Gratefulness Linked to Spirituality
We can look at humans as having 4 elements which are all linked. When we strive to be more conscious of this and self-aware we can better improve our mental state. The 4 elements along with examples are as follows:
- Physical (our behaviors) Adam is grateful that William helped him study for exams. Adam walks up to William, shakes his hand and says thank you so much for assisting me. Adam says thank you to God for the good grade. Adam later gives William a nice pen as a token of appreciation.
- Mental (our thoughts/beliefs) Adam believes that William is a great friend and deserves to be shown gratefulness for his actions. Adam thinks that William is becoming more trustworthy as a friend. Adam believes that William is a blessing for him.
- Emotional (our feelings) Adam feels happier and so does William.
- Spiritual (our soul, which encompasses all of these) Adam’s heart opens up more to William, Adam prays for William and feels a brotherhood. Adam’s inner self has a little more gratitude and light.
Using that above example, William would be impacted positively by the gratefulness shown from Adam as well as feel closer to his friend through their hearts/spirituality opening up more to one another as deeper trust develops. William will reciprocate the gratefulness as he appreciates the friendship. A cycle of gratitude, trust and a deeper more spiritual bond can develop.
Gratefulness Final Thoughts
Being grateful is so much more than just saying thank you to a person or thank you to God. Being grateful is a lifestyle, an overall attitude and a choice to take a positive and spiritual perspective on life. If we believe that all things happen for a reason, then surely we must be grateful for all things good and bad because they have a purpose. We may not be able to determine what that purpose is and it may be difficult to accept, but the ability to say Alhamdulillah or Thank You even in times of hardship shows a strong inclination towards positivity and a strengthening of our spiritual self.