By exploring peace through the process of thankfulness and appreciation, we cultivate the power of maintaining positivity and growth within the world
“Say thank you to the lady,” the handsome man pronounces to his daughter at the counter of the ice cream shop. The worker kindly hands the tiny ice cream cone to the precious and ravishing young girl. The young one’s blue eyes brighten and she begins to blush as she darts her gaze away from the worker.
“Thank you,” murmurs the young girl who grins from ear to ear as she takes a tiny bite.
If we are lucky, we have the opportunity of being raised in a house hold, in a society, where gratitude is taught at a young age. We are fortunate to have parents who encourage us to thank people who do nice things for us, provide us with a service, or help us in some way, shape, or form. The eventual hope is that we do not need to be reminded by our parents or figures of authority to thank a person who does something kind for us; rather that we develop the ability to recognize a good deed on our own.
Apart from the expression of appreciation being a social construct which demonstrates respect, Wood, Froh, and Geraght have determined that individuals who exhibit thankfulness are more likely to have positive personality traits. Specifically, “several studies have linked gratitude to each of the Big Five, with grateful people being more extroverted, agreeable, open, and conscientiousness, and less neurotic.” Along with the link to the Big Five, individuals who show appreciation are also more likely to develop positive relationships, and have better health.
While the expression of gratitude fosters positive health benefits and progressive relationships, it also allows for the development of inner peace as well as the advancement of a more peaceful society. Royce Anderson, author of ‘A Definition of Peace’ for the ‘Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology‘, clarifies that peace as a state: “does not necessarily imply that it is a static concept. In a simple sense, peace as a ‘process’ simply acknowledges that states can evolve over time.” By exploring peace through the process of thankfulness and appreciation, we cultivate the power of maintaining positivity and growth within the world in which we live.
In addition to the link of expressing gratitude with the Big Five, as well as the notion of peace, there is also a link between compassion and happiness. The Dalai Lama, in his book ’The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for living‘, suggests that:
“there is an inextricable link between one’s personal happiness and kindness, compassion, and caring for others. And this is a two way street: increased happiness leads to greater compassion, and increased compassion leads to greater happiness.”
Regardless of whether we express gratitude because we were socialized to do so, because it makes us happy, or because it allows us to find inner peace, its expression, its expression undoubtedly has an effect on the ways in which we relate with ourselves and to others. The opportunity to engage in open communication with individuals who are an important to me has been an eye opening experience. I invite you to explore the ways in which self-expression and the expression of gratitude correlate with happiness, and inner peace. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate acts of gratitude into your life, check out this article by Lori Deschene and take a moment to reflect the ways in which the declaration of gratitude incorporates positive energy into your life as well as the lives of individuals who surround you.