Gratitude & Hope this Thanksgiving
Recently, I came across an 1828 definition of gratitude that has stood the test of time. It states in part, that gratitude is, “An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness. Gratitude is an agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor, and a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services”
I love that this definition describes gratitude as an “emotion of the heart.” It seems that what is most good and meaningful in life comes from the heart, and the heart is at the center of tragedy, too. These are the experiences where we feel most deeply – be it exquisite joy or searing pain. Such moments may include a wedding day, the birth of a child, or the day that one becomes a grandparent. These experiences and feelings penetrate our souls to the core and give our lives significance, meaning, and purpose. The feelings of joy help us to relish in the goodness of life, while the feelings of pain and hurt give cause to reflect, learn, and grow even stronger than before.
The definition also states that it involves “a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness.” In essence, this involves showing someone that they are important. This might include calling the elderly neighbor on the phone just to see how they are getting along. It might be dropping off a drink or food item to a new neighbor. It might be the delivery of a special keepsake to your close friend or family member in their time of medical trial.
The receiver of an act of kindness is shown that they are in the thoughts of people around them. And, as an added benefit, the giver experience the happiness from selflessness.
“A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.” The key variables stated in the definition are a desire and an expectation.
Today’s world is cruel in many ways. Yet, there is still a great amount of goodness, compassion, and kindness out there – being shown by many people the world over.
Please take a moment to think about how you can help a neighbor, friend, or loved one this Thanksgiving season. What specific thing could you do to bring joy to another, to help another feel loved and appreciated, and to help someone feel deep gratitude and hope in their life?
May you feel a deep sense of gratitude and hope in your life as you step outside yourself and give to another.
Chief Hope Officer of Ever Hope