Gratitude is like a wheel – the more you cultivate it, the more momentum it is able to build.
If you can build it into your days, as a habit – giving thanks before a meal, dancing, making a gratitude jar that you can open up and read through on a special occasion (Thanksgiving?), reflecting in a journal, or posting your gratitude to a Facebook page created just for that…. – then it actually reshapes your brain and helps you be more resilient in the face of suffering and challenge.
And it also changes the world.
This interview took place in 2013– before gratitude had become a giant buzz word. In it, Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, author and founder of the Network for Grateful Living (an interactive online forum that reaches several thousand participants daily from more than 240 countries), shared:
Anything that produces happier, healthier individuals creates thereby a society in which more people are healthy and happy. This alone is a great improvement. But we can go a step further and show that grateful individuals live in a way that leads to the kind of society human beings long for. In many parts of the world society is sick. Keywords of the diagnosis are: Exploitation, oppression, and violence. Grateful living is a remedy against all three of these symptoms.
Exploitation springs from greed and a sense of scarcity. Grateful living makes us aware that there is enough for all.
Exploitation springs from greed and a sense of scarcity. Grateful living makes us aware that there is enough for all. Thus, it leads to a sense of sufficiency and a joyful willingness to share with others.
It is pretty evident that greed, oppression, and violence have led us (as a society) to a point of self-destruction. Our survival depends on a radical change; if the gratitude movement grows strong and deep enough, it may bring about this necessary change. Grateful living brings in place of greed: sharing; in place of oppression: respect; in place of violence: peace.
It’s not just self-indulgent, you see?
In December 2018, Diane Zaste was inspired to take her gratitude practice up a notch… she wanted to make it easier to practice, by creating accountability and community, so she created a private Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/510916996080289/?fref=nf.
She wrote that she hoped it would provide a forum to share what we’re grateful for, daily, and cultivate more gratitude. She quote brilliant local writer and meditation teacher, Susan Reifer: “Neuropsychologists have found that the human brain has a natural negativity bias, and gratitude has the ability to influence your neural machinery, and, in the process, to generate higher flows of feel-good neurotransmitters, like dopamine and nor-epinephrine.”
That is the science behind what could be a life-changing practice.”
Susan also says, “Gratitude is not meant to be a power tool for denial to shut down genuine grief, discomfort, or concern. It’s not meant to be an act of self-aggression. Rather, it’s a practice of focusing, for a few minutes a day, on finding things, noticing things, for which one can naturally experience a feeling of warmth and welcome. And that little tiny act has been shown by a whole range of different kinds of research to have benefits on physical health, to have benefits on psychological health, to improve empathy and reduce aggression, improve sleep, improve self-esteem, improve mental agility and strength.”
Consider gratitude as an experience, and not just a sentiment. What better antidote to suffering can there be than gratitude?
It’s a closed group, but people are welcome to join, by request.
After a lull, it has been revived again, with more participants joining in. If you’re on Facebook and would like to join, search the page.