invaluable treasures lie right in front of us, just waiting to
be more fully and creatively used. Such is the case with the gifts
of gratitude and blessing. In a world where most promising solutions
come with major price tags, these problem solvers are essentially
has to do with feeling and expressing appreciation. The expression
of thanksgiving may take place silently in a person's mind and
heart or may be expressed outwardly to one or more people. Blessing
is the act of giving something positive to another in thought,
word, or deed. Of course, gratitude and blessing are interrelated
and often overlap. For example, expressing sincere appreciation
to someone can simultaneously be a way of blessing that person;
and a visible act of blessing another will often elicit a return
expression of gratitude.
for bettering our lives often spark controversy, gratitude and
blessing have a universal, almost innate appeal. They're available
for use by anyone, and they already are being practiced enough
that people are, in general, convinced of their benefits and comfortable
with their use.
gratitude and blessing seem tailor-made for our time-pressured
and stressed society. Often requiring little or no extra time,
they can do wonders for reducing the burden of stress that wears
heavily on our physical well-being and diminishes our creativity,
spiritual attunement, and joy. Surely every individual, relationship,
family, organization, and community can benefit from the skilled
use of increased gratitude and blessing.
Having a thankful
heart and reaching out in blessing to others are hardly new concepts.
That's part of their beauty: They are easily understood, are widely
recognized as valuable, and are used by a broad diversity of people.
But we have only begun to tap the potential of these amazing tools.
The possibilities and benefits are immense.
philosophers, and all major religions encourage the practices
of gratitude and blessing others. These two gifts are so easy
to use; they're fun; they generate positive feelings in us and
others; and scientific studies have increasingly documented their
physiological, mental, and social benefits. These practices are
associated with an impressive array of positive outcomes both
for givers and receivers.
carried out solely on the level of thought, as in mental prayer
for another, significant positive changes in health and overall
well-being have been documented. Researchers also have found that
positive thoughts produce benefits even when directed toward animals,
plants, fungi, bacteria, and blood cells. To the imaginative mind,
the potential of these findings is staggering!
gratitude and blessing carry enormous positive power, their opposites-complaining,
negativity, and unkind thoughts and actions directed toward others-have
great power to harm and should therefore be strictly avoided.
light on the danger associated with the opposites of gratitude
and blessing, leading-edge research suggests that we live in a
common "field of energy," so that what we do to others, for better
or worse, we are, in a very real sense, doing to ourselves. If
this is indeed true, then anything less than compassionately understanding
and loving one another is like self-inflicted punishment-something,
of course, we want to avoid.
Sam Quick, Ph.D., Human Development and Family Relations Specialist,
and Alex Lesueur, Jr., M.S.L.S, Staff Support Associate.