What is Gratitude and How to Cultivate It

What separates gratitude from appreciation is the conscious acknowledgment and appreciation of the good in our lives.

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Gratitude means different things to different people.

A feeling of gratitude is more than a tangible perception though, it is a deep recognition and connection to something larger than ourselves, whether it be a higher power or charitable cause, it’s the connection paired with the appreciation that lends itself to lasting feelings of gratitude.

Consequently, gratitude is the great connector that exists within us all. We each are entitled to pursue and feel gratitude in the way that best supports our lives, circumstances, and viewpoints.

Think about the fact that gratitude has no measurement. We don’t say I need to x, y, or z to be grateful or I think I’ll add 2 cups of gratitude to this situation (which actually isn’t a bad idea).

So where does gratitude comes from? It exists as an internal perception of things, attitudes, and habits that cumulatively have the power to reduce the suffering in our lives although it often can co-exist with pain.

We are complex.

The fact is though, it’s not always easy to see gratitude as a choice, but through the unpacking of our emotional baggage, it becomes easier to see that gratitude is a consciously cultivated habit.

It comes down to, at the end of the day, what are you grateful for? What makes life purposeful?

Take yesterday, for example, I am grateful that:

I was able to get up and care for my family.

I got to spend time on one of my passions which is also my paid work, which allows me to grow, help others and create opportunities for the future and plus it’s fulfilling.

I was able to spend time with and appreciate my preschooler, it’s rewarding to teach him to read, trace characters in books while at the same time work on my career, education, and personal development.

I was able to hike and feel the sun warm my soul.

And I was able to create a life and home that reflects my values and fills my heart with great joy and gratitude.

Today and every day I am grateful. I choose to focus on healthy gratitude vs. sabotaging pessimism. I make the conscious choice to cultivate gratitude and let go of attitude/ego.

If we look hard enough, each day, we get to do things that challenge us, fulfill us, excite us, and motivate us. We get to live, love, and discover our purpose(s) in far too many ways to list.

This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect and full of gratitude every day, but appreciation certainly helps. Give it a try, and be inspired and motivated to focus on the things you are able to do every day, with gratitude.

I write about self-development, healing, psychology, philosophy, spirituality, animal advocacy & neuroscience. AuroraMEliam@gmail.com

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