Gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation is a feeling or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. Gratitude is not the same as feeling indebted to someone but, rather, feeling grateful is making a conscious choice to look for and acknowledge the good in any situation.
To me, it’s fabulously empowering and life-changing in a positive way to realize that we have a choice in how we look at situations in our life.
I will write more in another blog post about why and how I made a choice to look for the good in my life, even when I was very sad and depressed because of some traumatic things in my personal and family history. I learned how the regular practice of gratitude and choosing to look for the good in people, circumstances, and the world as a whole can make for a very productive, satisfying, and happy life.
Thank you for reading! ~ Lisa E. Papp
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We are pleased that the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley has allowed us to share many of their articles and research on our site. Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., is the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude. He is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is also the author of the books Gratitude Works!: A 21-Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity and Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.
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What Is Gratitude?
Robert Emmons, perhaps the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude, argues that gratitude has two key components, which he describes in a Greater Good essay, “Why Gratitude Is Good.” (essay on our Solutions page)
“First,” he writes, “it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received.”
In the second part of gratitude, he explains, “we recognize that the sources of this goodness are outside of ourselves. … We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.”
Emmons and other researchers see the social dimension as being especially important to gratitude. “I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion,“ writes Emmons, “because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.”
Because gratitude encourages us not only to appreciate gifts but to repay them (or pay them forward), the sociologist Georg Simmel called it “the moral memory of mankind.”
***Thanks to the Greater Good Science Center for generously sharing this article with PracticalGratitude.com.
“What is Gratitude” originally appeared on Greater Good, the online magazine of UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center. To view the original article, see “What is Gratitude”: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/gratitude/definition#what_is