The Grace of Gratitude - A Key to Resiliency
Grace has been defined as a “gift of God, freely given”. People with grace evoke a sense of calm with fluid movements and unpretentious presence. And grace-filled moments rise when a convergence of unexpected events and people evoke a sense of wonder and joy.
So how does this combine with gratitude to impact resiliency? Glad you asked.
Expressions of appreciation and gratitude can never be demanded. Because of that, we are delighted and often surprised when someone notices our actions and says “thank you.” We are no longer taken for granted but instead, acknowledged for the contribution we made.We smile. We expand. We feel stronger. In fact, according to the latest research in the journal Personal Relationships, spousal gratitude is found to be the best predicator of marital quality and seems to have protective effects against marital conflict.The marriage itself becomes resilient.
When we are in the presence of people whom we acquaint with grace, their calm demeanor has a spillover effect. Our anxiety can lessen. Our respiration slows. We become more attuned to the NOW and not a worrisome future. Years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to sit on the ground at a remote monastery in the village of Nako in the Indian Himalayas. Under a parachute silk tent, we joined villagers who had come from parts of this remote region to this once-in-a-lifetime event. In front of me was the His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. He spoke in Tibetan to the villagers and monks gathered before him. Although I understood not a word, his presence softly covered all in compassion, kindness, and serenity.
That was an unexpected grace-filled moment that brought me to wonder, joy and deep gratitude for the experience. If the Dalai Lama who has lived through tremendous conflict, been driven from his country, and hunted with a price on his head could exude such resiliency and peace, could I not try and find similar calm and compassion in my life?
However, we don’t have to trek to India for gratitude. It can become a practice we can cultivate immediately. It takes awareness. Resiliency requires optimism and when we take time to notice all that we have, it has an immediate impact on our health, personal and relational well-being and human development. In fact, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley has undertaken a $5.6 million project called “Expanding the Science and Practice of Gratitude” to deepen the scientific understand of the “gratitude effect”.
Gratitude starts now. Spoken out loud or captured in a journal, begin. Some days, it might be gratitude for the laughter of a child or the lick of a beloved dog.
And as we enter the Thanksgiving season, I am most grateful to you, my readers. I am thankful for my wonderful family, my great assistant, my superb web master and my wonderful friends. I have treasured clients, amazing audiences, and a strong body to travel wherever they need me. I am utterly, totally thankful for the gift of caring for and being with my mother in the last six years of her life. How thankful that my precious sister and brother joined me in that journey.
As Meister Eckhart wrote centuries ago, “If the only prayer you ever said was thank you, that would be enough."