Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Gratitude Chains

Everything good that happens in this world is the result of a chain of events. No matter the size, each event has a history of activity. Unfortunately, most of us are unaware of the many good chains in our lives.
Consider the last time you opened a can of beans. Did you think about who planted them, picked them, packed them, shipped them, stocked them, and sold them to you? Here's the response I most often get when I ask that question, "ahhh, no." We just open the can, throw the beans on our plate, pop them in the microwave, grab a fork, and start eating them as soon as the plate is put on the table. We don't see the chain, we just see the beans.
My mom knows about beans, and she understands the chain: Mom picked beans growing up in Maine. During the summer Mom and her sister would walk down the hill from their home to the Kennebec River, pay ten cents for someone to ferry them across the river in a rowboat, and then head for the bus that would take them to the farm where the beans were grown. Mom would spend all day in the hot sun picking string beans, earning ten dollars per week. Then the beans were washed, packed, and shipped to nearby grocery stores.
So when Mom sits down to eat string beans, she appreciates the chain. Her awareness of all the people and effort that it takes to get beans from the farm to her plate makes her feel grateful. And that's a good thing. Gratitude is one of the most potent psychological contributors to happiness.
Robert Emmons, psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, demonstrated in his research that grateful people are happier. In his new book, Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier, Emmons wrote, "Our groundbreaking research has shown that grateful people experience higher levels of positive emotions such as joy, enthusiasm, love, happiness, and optimism, and that the practice of gratitude as a discipline protects a person from the destructive impulses of envy, resentment, greed, and bitterness."

Gratitude Chains are made up of links of appreciation for what contributes to the people and things we care about. Here are the four keys to building Gratitude Chains.

1.Cultivate Awareness Everyday!
Look around you and take note of what you value. What and who do you appreciate in your life? Write down what you observe (i.e., your spouse, your children, your job, your daily meals, your friends, your country, your car, your home, the customer service you receive, the coffee you drink, etc.).
2.Cultivate Curiosity!
Learn more about each person or item on your list. How do these people do what they do each day? What contributes to these important things in your life? Ask questions, study, and research. Do whatever you have to do in order to better understand what and whom you treasure.
3.Cultivate Memory! You feel grateful only for what you remember. Practice recalling the most important people and things you care about in your life. Recite them in the morning. Add them to your prayers. Reflect on them each day. Thank them.
Link Your Gratitude Chains Together.There is power in the Gratitude Chain. The more we know about the people and things that matter to us in our lives, the more likely we will feel grateful. View your life as Gratitude Chains linked together. The gratitude you feel in one part of your life will connect to and energize the other areas.
I subscribe to Happy News and this was featured over there . I have always been grateful for the people and things in my life. This article gave me a fresh prespective on it that I thought I would share here.
"Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude" -- Denis Waitley


kate said...

I try to practice gratitude in my life. Especially for the little things or the things/people you see every day. The ones I love the most, the place I live, the pets who love me.
Thanks for another timely reminder to be grateful.

meggie said...

This is a very nice post.

I think having a blog has alerted me to more & more of life's free treats.
Thank you for visiting my blog, & leaving me a comment.

Shelby said...

You are always inspiring! :) Thanks.

p.s. my pottery came from Broken Vessel Pottery - from Kenny (can't recall his last name) near New Albany, Miss.. he and his wife do fabulous work. Thanks again.

Take care!

Cheryl said...

That is such a wonderful post. Gratitude should be a part of our daily lives. Sometimes we take for granted the great things and people in our life. Thanks for a good reminder. God Bless!

Mrs. G. said...

It is so easy to forget to be grateful for all that we have in our efforts to get what we want. Thanks for the reminder.

Barbara B. said...

Great thoughts! And I had not known about the Happy News site, so thanks for posting the link!

Ali Honey said...

Food for thought here. Thanks for your comment on my blog. I do actually think about the beans like that; because we grow our own, the answer to who planted, watered, picked, prepared and cooked the beans is usually me or my husband. As we grow lots of food I guess that helps, but this chain can be applied to manufactured articles too . Thanks, I will keep being grateful

gaz said...

beautiful field. lovely post. thanks for visiting mine...

Evelyn said...

This is a wonderful blog and so meaningful. I agree that grateful people are happier people! I try each day to be grateful for the people in my life and other things we have. Little things make me happy and they add up to the big things. Which I think is part of a chain because they all connect somewhere along the line. I think I am truly blessed with the people in my life!

Andrea said...

Beautiful field.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I will be back to visit yours again.

Carver said...

Great post and a beautiful photograph to go with it. When I did the artist way program in the 1990s one of the exercises I liked is when you would make a gratitude list. I don't remember exactly what it was called but I found that to be a helpful exercise. I like the way you related the idea of gratitude chains to the food we eat. That is so basic and nothing is more important to life than adequate nutrition but it's easy to forget where it comes from.

Judy Merrill-Smith said...

Beautiful! Being grateful about anything creates a connection between us and our world; taking it a step further to think about the connections just makes the gratitude even more powerful. Thanks for posting this. I'm going to post a link to this from my blog.

(I've been thinking about connections and chains lately, but I find that I feel negative connotations around the word "chains" -- symbolizing oppression and imprisonment. It just occurred to me that "links" seems like a much friendlier word!)

Minnesota Matron said...

What a wonderful post! I wish I could say that I've been more tapped into gratitude as a practice, but the main person to whom I grateful -- really feeling it -- is my husband, who routinely oes out of his way for me and my needs. But this reminds me of how many great gifts I have all around me, all the time, and how I haven't been seeing. Thank you.

Smalltown RN said...

I never thought about it that way before...but having picked berries or fruits and grown them, washed them and made jams from them and given them as gifts...yes I can see the makes us more appreciative

Kerstin said...

Well said! I have always had a natural curiosity about people, to the point where I have been accused of being to direct in the questions that I ask people. But I am genuinely interested ... in where they come from, what do they do, what makes them tick? I often surprise others with the things I know about people, simply because I ask and they tell me. I sometimes meet people who have the most curious jobs and I usually think, yes, SOMEONE is doing this so that I can use it in my daily life. I am not sure if I necessarily feel gratitude when thinking about the chain, it's more of a sense of awe at how seamlessly and smoothly the chain works, most of the time. But gratitude is also a very appropriate notion.

storyteller said...

Thank you for the wisdom in this post, reminding us that there are simple steps we can follow to help us live with more awareness and gratitude.
Hugs and blessings,