“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.” Aesop
One of my favorite childhood stories is the Aesop’s Fable of Androcles and the Lion, and it is still relevant today as the classic tale of gratitude. This is a tale of a simple kind act of a slave who removes a thorn from the paw of a lion, only to meet the same lion again later in one of the legendary arenas of ancient times in which, as punishment, humans were offered as meals to starving and ferocious lions. Both had been captured for these dark purposes. But when the lion saw Androcles he recognized him, and in a dramatic display of gratitude for removing the thorn from his paw he refused to attack. Instead, the lion greeted Androcles affectionately as an old friend.
As the fable ends, the gratitude demonstrated by the lion proved to be quite joyful — and healthy — for both. It turned out that the emperor was so impressed that he pardoned and freed both Androcles and the lion.
And that is a lovely lead-in to the many benefits of showing gratitude and giving thanks, according to a number of studies on the subject:
- Enhances physical, mental and emotional health: Being grateful can improve your health on all levels by promoting a positive outlook, according to this article in Psychology Today.
- Improves relationships and opens opportunities: Showing appreciation for and to your spouse or significant other, family members, friends, colleagues, managers, employees, neighbors and others makes you and them feel happy and valued. Thus, expressing gratitude to others brings happiness, improves and maintains relationships on an open and happy plane and unlocks the doors of opportunity.
- Cultivates empathy and emotional intelligence: Displaying gratitude connects you to others — socially, professionally and emotionally — thereby increasing understanding, caring and compatibility and expanding your social and professional networks. Learning to express gratitude in your daily life can even bring about career and other life successes.
- Encourages better and longer sleep: Being grateful for the good things in your life is a calming and positive force for relaxation. I remember the words from the old Bing Crosby / Rosemary Clooney song, Count Your Blessings: “When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, just count your blessings instead of sheep, and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”
- Promotes overall optimism and general happiness and well being: Looking at that proverbial glass as being half full rather than half empty can alter your universe in a good way. According to the Mayo Clinic, positive thinking can help to reduce stress, increase coping skills and decrease the risk of depression and heart attacks. So while you shouldn’t eliminate check-ups with your doctors, at the same time you shouldn’t underestimate the power of positive thinking.
Make Your (Gratitude) List & Check It Twice
While you’re making your shopping, to-do and holiday lists, try adding a gratitude list. You could start this Thanksgiving and continue every day afterward thinking about all for which you are grateful. The experts say doing this will make you feel calmer and happier. Why not give it a try?
My list, for starters, will include my family — husband Ted, daughter Lyn, new son-in-law Paul, and his terrific parents; dear friends; clients; hearth and home; health; our kitties, Maude and Mendy, grandkitties Mushu and Maxx, and all our pets past and present; good neighbors; Mike Peters; the holidays; husband Ted Nelson’s fabulous You Tube Page; my work with students; our Hudson River Valley village; our country; my wonderful doctors; the smiles from local shopkeepers; the fact that I didn’t lose my second set of car keys; and you, dear readers.
So, thank you for joining me every week, occasionally or whenever you can. On that very positive note here’s wishing you all a wonderfully Happy Thanksgiving!
Until next time,
P.S. Please check out my previous Thanksgiving