DailyRi 023: What My Positive Orgs Class Taught Me About Expressing Gratitude
I AM A DEEPLY GRATEFUL PERSON.
in fact, my professor had us take this strengths assessment last week, & gratitude was my 2nd strength after forgiveness.
(forgiveness as a strength was super interesting, but that’s a topic for another post). anyhoo, leading up to this class session, she assigned us a video discussing the idea of flourishing. in this video, martin seligman discusses a study that was conducted on people who have experienced 1-3 severely traumatizing/tragic events in their lifetime. they wanted to see how those subjects experienced positive emotion compared to a control group.
i was brought to tears listening to the results. those subjects who experienced 3 of these tragic events showed the highest rates of hope, gratitude & optimism. honestly, i think it made me so emotional because i really wasn’t surprised.
that’s been my experience. i am always writing about my relationship to grief, god & gratitude. how the three go hand in hand for me. how i wouldn’t pull them apart because each one of them is tremendously pivotal in shaping my perspective.
during our last class session (can you tell i actually like this class?), we watched this awesome video where subjects were asked to write a letter to someone in their life for whom they are grateful. then, they were told that they needed to call that person & read the letter. aside from it being a moving video, the findings of the study were super interesting.
while both people experience heightened positive emotion after this kind of exchange, it turns out, expressing gratitude induces even more positive emotion in the person expressing the gratitude than it does in the person on the receiving end.
at one point during our session, we were asked to list all of the things we were grateful for. at the end of my extremely long gratitude list, i added “i am grateful that i have so many things to be grateful for.” when we turned & discussed this activity with our table-mates, one of my peers talked about how this activity made her feel overwhelmed. she expressed how she was starting to feel guilty because she recognized that most of the things she is grateful for are things she didn’t earn (being born into a wonderful family, living in a certain zip-code, being able-bodied & healthy). many of the things on her list were things she lucked into, & it made her feel guilty.
now, you already know how much i resonate with the idea of “lucking into” my life. i am not ashamed to credit god, my parents, my extended family, my community & whoever else’s hands have held me up so humbly. but unlike her, i don’t feel guilty at all. why? because i have always believed that with overwhelming gratitude comes a serious obligation to serve others. i am spending every minute of every day thinking about how i can best serve others, in this moment, & as i prepare for my future.
many of us feel gratitude, but to me, expressing gratitude is synonymous with service. personally, it is a humble reminder every single day that nobody owes me anything, & that everything i “have” is merely borrowed. i am borrowing this body, so i’d better take care of it. i express gratitude by taking care of my health. this mind is not mine, so i’d better take care of it by continuing to stimulate it intellectually & cleanse it from all toxins. this heart is not mine, so i’d better take care of it by protecting it from anything or anyone that cannot handle it with care. & lastly, no space i occupy belongs to me. no person i interact with is “mine.”
SO I’D BETTER EXPRESS MY GRATITUDE BY LEAVING ALL PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS BETTER THAN I FOUND THEM.