Most of us recognize the expression, ‘Count Your Blessings’. But do we really do this on a daily basis? During this holiday season, we were in the checkout line of a young man in a major grocery store. When I inquired what he had asked of Santa this year, he replied, “A new wife.” He went on to tell us that he had lost his wife to cancer a year ago and he was so lonely. My whole being was in distress for him. Going to the car I went through my mental checklist of all my personal good fortune. How many of us review what has happened to us in the past year that we truly are thankful for. And, especially for those that may have relatives and friends separated by time and physical distance, the holidays may help us renew our sense of happiness and gratitude. What does the feeling of gratitude essentially provide for our well-being?
Gratitude is the true honoring of others services or coordination of actions with us. Gratitude can complete the close of a sufficient business relationship, confirm the appreciation of the manager in thanking the marketing team for ‘just in time’ delivery, or is demonstrated in something as insignificant as the stranger who opens the post office door for you.
Gratitude can also be a “thankfulness for life”. We often hear our friends verbally give thanks for the good things life has provided to us, good health, loving family, superb wine, even thanks for loyal pets. When we hear eulogies that thank the departed person for their influence and impact in their life, we venerate those moments.
From Cicero to Buddha, many philosophers and spiritual teachers have celebrated gratitude. The world's religions, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism, value gratitude as a morally beneficial emotional state encouraging reciprocal kindheartedness. Clergy, teachers, parents and grandparents have long extolled the virtues of gratitude; and recently, scholars are beginning to research it as a subject of scientific inquiry.
Research is suggesting that feelings of gratitude may be beneficial to our emotional well-being (Emmons & McCullough, 2003). In people who are generally grateful, life events have little influence on experienced gratitude. Emmons and McCollough were curious about why people involved in any faith seem to have more happiness and a greater sense of well-being than those who aren't. They decided to study the connections conducting the Research Project on Gratitude and Thanksgiving. The study required several hundred people in three different groups to keep daily diaries. The first group kept a diary of the events that occurred at the close of each day, while the second group recorded their unpleasant experiences. The last group made a daily list of things for which they were grateful.
The results of the study indicated that daily gratitude exercises resulted in higher reported levels of alertness, enthusiasm, determination, optimism and energy. In addition, the gratitude group experienced less depression and stress, was more likely to help others, exercised more regularly and made more progress toward personal goals. According to the results, people who feel grateful are also more likely to feel loved. The exercise of keeping a gratitude journal had remarkable effect on the amounts of positive emotion and subjective well-being that the participants experienced.
When you think you need to review your gratitude list, ask yourself:
• How has gratitude generated emotional energy for you to pursue your goals, assist peers with their ventures, even motivated you to help the neighbors with their clean-up plans?
• What 5 things are you truly grateful for today? How do they support you, make you feel?
• How has your family or other important people in your life helped you achieve career goals? When was the last time you told them how you were grateful for their inspiration in your life?
• How does gratitude shape your level of professional flexibility to not only satisfy the company’s bottom line, but fulfill your core values as well?
• When you find yourself in resignation, how can you find the stillness to reflect on your good fortune?
• Does it take events such as, encountering the homeless or seeing children panhandling to propel you to voice gratitude? What practice can you put in place to renew gratitude for life, journaling, serving the community, volunteerism?
• How many times in the last year have you chosen not to express thanks to colleagues for a job well done? Did you find yourself regretting it later?
• If you believe gratitude aids in the physical healing process, how will you factor in any gratitude practices to recapture optimum health?

“I can live for two months on a good compliment. “ Mark Twain

Author's Bio: 

Bradley Morgan is a corporate and ontological coach who served as a hi-tech executive for over 17 years, in companies such as, IBM, Bay Networks, Premysis, and Brocade Communications. Bradley’s credentials include a BS from Georgia Tech, a MS from UCLA, a certificate in gerontology from the University of Boston (CGP); and a Professional Coaching Certification (PCC) through the Newfield Network program. In the telecommunications industry, she developed both domestic and international systems engineering teams for technical expertise and executive level leadership. Bradley is a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), American Management Associates (AMA), the American Society on Aging (ASA), Northern VA Fall Prevention Coalition; and the American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA).

And, Bradley is also the Founder and President of a non profit company that specifically coaches American Indian students. The Looks Within Foundation is committed to the best in transitional coaching for these students from their reservation life; and, selects candidates from all tribal nations for scholarship funds in higher education. Bradley is a featured speaker at many of the student councils within the tribal nations.