It’s a shame modern society trains to hold our emotions in and not express them fully, including gratitude. Most of us robotically say “thank you” and “I appreciate it” a good bit of the time, but words alone are not an expression of feeling. We’re frequently taught that emotion plus words equals expressed feeling and its our feelings that make us vulnerable. I suppose that’s true, but hiding our feelings always insulates us from enjoying the full richness and fullness of life. Being happy takes risks!
All relationships to be functional must contain a level of mutual duty and loyalty. Gratitude is a step past being such moral obligations and gratefulness generally falls under the heading of “altruism”. Altruism is a motivation to provide something of value to a party who must be anyone but the self with no expectation of any compensation or benefits, either direct, or indirect. In other words, expressing true gratitude is giving purely for the sake of giving.
A study by James Fowler of the University of California, San Diego, and Nicholas Christakis of Harvard, stated when one person behaves generously, it inspires observers to behave generously later, toward different people. In fact, the researchers found that altruism could spread by three degrees—from person to person to person to person. “As a result,” they write, “each person in a network can influence dozens or even hundreds of people, some of whom he or she does not know and has not met. In other words, the ‘giving’ of gratefulness breeds gratefulness.
Giving (such as expressing gratefulness) has been linked to the release of a hormone released during sex and breast-feeding that induces feelings of warmth, euphoria, and connection to others. In laboratory studies, Paul Zak, the director of the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University, found that a dose of the hormone (oxytocin) will cause people to give more generously and to feel more empathy towards others, with “symptoms” lasting up to two hours. And those people on an “oxytocin high” can potentially jumpstart a “virtuous circle, where one person’s generous behavior triggers another’s”.
That’s boomerang effect of giving gratitude. Plainly and simply, what you give comes back to you. Maybe not in the quantity or frequency you give it, but more gratefulness expressed will cause you to get back more. Further, telling others of your gratitude for them is it’s a gift you give yourself. Expressed regularly, thankfulness can change the world and your perception of it. Author Mary Angela wrote, If you were to stop and feel the thank you each time you gave it, you would be living in gratitude. True gratitude is spiritual and fills the heart with warmth and joy!
Genuine gratitude, given or received, accumulates over time and softens a hard heart and opens a closed one. I am living proof!
Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Play with abandon.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.
Mary Anne Radmacher