Sep. 21 has been designated as World Gratitude Day, providing opportunities to show appreciation, whether to individuals or to groups for their contributions to our lives or simply to take time to reflect with gratitude for being alive and being able to enjoy the benefits of life.
The celebration of this lesser known holiday originated 1965 at a Thanksgiving dinner held at the International East-West Center in Hawaii. Those in attendance expressed a commitment to set up a similar event in their countries on Sep. 21 the following year. Since that time, World Gratitude Day is celebrated across the globe.
Expressions of appreciation can be simple, as the lyrics of Stevie Wonder suggest: “. . . just call to say I love you.” Think of sending a card of thanks or an email message or an e-card to someone. Some expressions are more formal in offering a certificate or plaque of appreciation from an organization that you may be a part of for contributions made by individuals within or outside of the group. Another gesture would be to prepare a special dessert or a meal. Some might also consider writing a poem or letter or giving a gift that is purchased or made by hand. You will find countless ways to show gratitude.
Benefits of Gratitude
Although expressions of gratitude can impact those who receive them in a positive way, studies have also revealed that showing gratitude can also be beneficial, health-wise and otherwise, to those who show themselves grateful. Author of Words of Gratitude Mind Body & Soul, Robert Emmons, indicated that gratitude is not merely a passing positive emotional state; if cultivated on a regular basis, it actually improves your health.
Carisa Holmes in discussing “The Science of Gratitude,” referred to research conducted at the University of California-Davis by Emmons, who examined the psychology of gratitude and its impact on quality of life. Emmons noted, “Without gratitude, life can be lonely, depressing and impoverished.” He went on to say “Gratitude enriches human life. It elevates, energizes, inspires and transforms. People are moved, opened and humbled through expressions of gratitude.”
Holding a similar view is fibromyalgia patient and moderator of a fibromyalgia self-help program, Joan Buchman, who discussed “The Healing Power of Gratitude,” as she learned the health benefits of keeping a "gratitude journal." She commented, “Gratitude means appreciating what you have and making the most from that. . . . Gratitude is not about ‘looking at the bright side’ or denying the realities of life. Gratitude goes much deeper than that. It's about learning from a situation, taking the good to help deal with other challenges in the future. It's about finding out that you have more power over your life than you previously imagined.”
Despite the challenges that seem to proliferate on every hand, there is much to be thankful for. World Gratitude Day is a reminder to express our appreciation, but demonstrating gratitude should be more than a one-day occurrence, even on a globe scale. Indeed, developing an attitude of gratitude can be extremely beneficial, both to the giver and receiver of gratitude.
Previous Examiner.com articles discuss the concept of “Thanksliving” or living purposefully with an attitude of gratitude, as opposed to simply giving thanks on a specific occasion. Click here to read “Thanksliving: Everyday is Thanksgiving.” To learn more about the importance of having the right frame of mind, read “Attitude is everything: an attitude of gratitude.” Take a look at World Gratitude Day 2011.