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  • Writer's pictureRonald S. Newman, Ph.D.

Seeking balance through gratitude


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“Gratitude is a sense of thankfulness and joy in response to receiving a gift, whether the gift be a tangible benefit from a specific other or a moment of peaceful bliss evoked by natural beauty.” (Christopher Peterson & Martin Seligman) In their book Character Strengths and Virtues, they go on to point out that the word “gratitude” comes from the Latin gratia, which means “grace,” “graciousness” or “gratefulness.” It is acknowledging that we are recipients of some gift.


“The test of all happiness is gratitude. Children are grateful when Santa Claus puts in their stockings gifts of toys or sweets. Could I not be grateful to Santa Claus when he puts in my stockings the gift of two miraculous legs? We thank people for birthday presents … Can I thank no one for the birthday present of birth?”—GK Chesterton

Here are a few tips for developing your sense of gratitude:


Resist an attitude of entitlement. In your heart, you want to foster an awareness that our expectations matter. An entitlement attitude will rob you of both gratitude and happiness in the end.


Develop curiosity. Allow your mind to explore the wonders beyond your experience; things waiting to be discovered. Perhaps they are best discovered through a microscope, or possibly through a telescope, but the curious mind finds joy in the quest as well as the discovery.


Appreciate beauty. The world around us is full of beauty. It may be from sunrises in the Atlantic to sunsets in the Pacific, or the coast to the mountains, but it is there. It is also found in the souls of those around you, known and unknown. Every individual is like a rich mine, full of gems to be found and appreciated.


See gratitude as a choice. We make many micro-choices in our lives that can shape gratitude so that it can become a shining character trait in us.


See life as a gift. Every breath brings the opportunity to be grateful that you are alive. Allow gratitude for that gift to help you rise above any burdens you are carrying.


Gratitude brings power. Rather than a sense of hopelessness and helplessness, gratitude empowers you to work through difficulties toward positive solutions to the problems life may bring. With troubled relationships, it helps you stay connected with others you value.


Embrace a higher purpose. Life is meaningful, and gratitude acknowledges this reality.


Acknowledge others. Others helped shape us, for which we can be grateful. We really could not have accomplished much without their influence. Be grateful for it.


Cultivate humility. This means acknowledging the truth of “I don’t deserve this,” which helps your appreciation and gratitude to grow.


Focus toward God. Abraham Maslow wrote that gratitude “can go over into worship, giving thanks, adoring, giving praise, oblation and other reactions which fit very easily into orthodox religious frameworks.” True faith facilitates an attitude of gratitude.


Sing songs of praise. Giving thanks and singing songs of praise can bring sincere gratitude to a new level and transform your soul in a deeper and life-changing way.


Ronald S. Newman, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in South Jersey, exclusively practicing through telehealth and videoconferencing at present. He can be reached at (609) 567-9022.

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