“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” ― Eckhart Tolle
Orange light from the glowing candles reflected on his young, open face as he carefully held the box. Only a few hours earlier, loving hands had cut delicate foil paper into intentional shapes and words to decorate this gratitude box just for him. Sticky peelings of glue and tiny scraps of paper lie all around his feet. This jewel box was only the container – the holder – for contents he eagerly anticipated.And then he opened it.
The energy was palpable as he and others sat nestled around the mahogany table and read their 11 individual appreciations. Inside his miniature box, he found small pieces of folded origami paper. Each held a hand-written note of gratitude imagined with tenderness, shared with vulnerability. The details in the words felt centering as they revealed how intimately he was known. As his watery eyes met the writer’s across the table, each felt deep gratitude for one other.
gratitude is generative
In a study by Emmons and McCullough, young adult participants were divided into two groups. Half of the people to journaled about things that irritated them, as well as ways they felt better off , or less fortunate, than others. The other half was asked to journal about things for which they were grateful – their blessings. The study found that participants who focused on blessings and gratitude experienced considerably greater satisfaction with their lives, more optimism, and greater connection to others.The effects of well-being were apparent not only to the participants, but to those close to them, as well. Rather than focusing on what we are grateful for in comparison to another person (i.e. I’m having a terrible hair day, but at least I’m not bald), we consider what we appreciate about people in our lives that we want them to know.
practicing open gratitude
Taking gratitude to the next level – by making an open expression of gratitude toward another person – helps us grow. The impact of sharing our feelings of gratitude is amplified when we witness others receiving our appreciations. Our hearts stir when we put ourselves out there and see our impact on another person. The emotional gains are exponential. We call this deeper level open gratitude.Simple cardboard boxes transform. So can decorated lunch bags, postcards, or bedside sticky notes. The vehicle is not critical. It’s in the exchange, where we can feel the true gift of gratitude in our core; this genuine connectivity can be cathartic.Sharing appreciation, whether in person or not, is transformative. As we consider the people in our lives for whom we are grateful, we can also consider why. And what’s to stop us from taking the next step and telling that person? Imagine how euphoric the writer felt when she exchanged a knowing glance with the boy across the table before he folded his note and tucked it carefully back into the foil box. Like that girl, we will feel gratitude’s unquestionable power to connect.