‘Gratitude’ derives from the Latin ‘gratia’, which, depending on the context, translates as ‘grace’, ‘graciousness’, or ‘gratefulness’.
Gratitude never came easily to us human beings, and is a diminishing virtue in modern times. In our consumerist society, we focus on what we lack, or what other people have that we don’t, whereas gratitude is the feeling of appreciation for what we already have. It is the recognition that the good in our life can come from something that is outside us and outside our control – be it other people, nature, or a higher power and that owes little or nothing to us.
Practicing gratitude means paying attention to what we are thankful for to the degree of feeling more kind and compassionate toward the world at large. It can motivate people to make positive changes in their lives. Studies show that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude by literally counting their blessings and writing letters of thanks, for example. This proactive acknowledgement can increase well-being, health, and happiness. Being grateful, and especially the expression of it, is also associated with increased energy, optimism, and empathy.